Article

Stretching and injury prevention: an obscure relationship.

Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physical Therapy, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium.
Sports Medicine (Impact Factor: 5.32). 02/2004; 34(7):443-9.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT It is generally accepted that increasing the flexibility of a muscle-tendon unit promotes better performances and decreases the number of injuries. Stretching exercises are regularly included in warm-up and cooling-down exercises; however, contradictory findings have been reported in the literature. Several authors have suggested that stretching has a beneficial effect on injury prevention. In contrast, clinical evidence suggesting that stretching before exercise does not prevent injuries has also been reported. Apparently, no scientifically based prescription for stretching exercises exists and no conclusive statements can be made about the relationship of stretching and athletic injuries. Stretching recommendations are clouded by misconceptions and conflicting research reports. We believe that part of these contradictions can be explained by considering the type of sports activity in which an individual is participating. Sports involving bouncing and jumping activities with a high intensity of stretch-shortening cycles (SSCs) [e.g. soccer and football] require a muscle-tendon unit that is compliant enough to store and release the high amount of elastic energy that benefits performance in such sports. If the participants of these sports have an insufficient compliant muscle-tendon unit, the demands in energy absorption and release may rapidly exceed the capacity of the muscle-tendon unit. This may lead to an increased risk for injury of this structure. Consequently, the rationale for injury prevention in these sports is to increase the compliance of the muscle-tendon unit. Recent studies have shown that stretching programmes can significantly influence the viscosity of the tendon and make it significantly more compliant, and when a sport demands SSCs of high intensity, stretching may be important for injury prevention. This conjecture is in agreement with the available scientific clinical evidence from these types of sports activities. In contrast, when the type of sports activity contains low-intensity, or limited SSCs (e.g. jogging, cycling and swimming) there is no need for a very compliant muscle-tendon unit since most of its power generation is a consequence of active (contractile) muscle work that needs to be directly transferred (by the tendon) to the articular system to generate motion. Therefore, stretching (and thus making the tendon more compliant) may not be advantageous. This conjecture is supported by the literature, where strong evidence exists that stretching has no beneficial effect on injury prevention in these sports. If this point of view is used when examining research findings concerning stretching and injuries, the reasons for the contrasting findings in the literature are in many instances resolved.

6 Followers
 · 
631 Views
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of sex on the acute effect of static-passive one-session stretching on V sit-and-reach scores in university students. A sample of 76 college students aged 19–30 years were divided into a women group (n = 36) and men group (n = 40). During one session the students performed stretching exercises for the major body muscles using the static-passive technique. Hamstring and lower back muscles extensibility was estimated by the V-sit-and-reach test at the beginning and at the end of the stretching session. The results of the two-way ANOVA with the Bonferroni adjustment showed that females and males did not show a different response to the one-session stretching intervention (p > 0.05). However, both the women and men increased statistically their scores after performing the stretching session (p < 0.001). In conclusion, no differences have been found in the trainability of flexibility by sex. However, there are differences of flexibility by the sex of students, being the females, who obtained the highest marks in the V-sit-and-reach. All this knowledge could help coaches to design more effectives stretching programs.
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Purpose: To compare the short-term effects of a neurodynamic sliding technique versus control condition on hamstring flexibility in healthy, asymptomatic male soccer players. Subjects: Twenty-eight young male soccer players from Palencia, Spain (mean age 20.7 yrs �+or- 1.0, range 19-22) with decreased hamstring muscle flexibility. Methods: Subjects were randomly assigned to one of two groups: neurodynamic sliding intervention or no intervention control. Each subject’s dominant leg was measured for straight leg raise (SLR) range of motion (ROM) pre- and post-intervention. Subjects received interventions as per group allocation over a 1 week period. Data were analyzed with a 2 (intervention: neurodynamic and control) � 2 (time: pre and post) factorial ANOVA with repeated measures and appropriate post-hoc analyses. Results: A significant interaction was observed between intervention and time for hamstring extensibility, F(1,26) = 159.187, p < .0005. There was no difference between the groups at the start, p = .743; however, at the end of the study, the groups were significantly different with more range of motion in the group that received neurodynamic interventions, p = .001. The group that received neurodynamic interventions improved significantly over time (p < .001), whereas the control group did not (p = .684). Conclusion: Findings suggest that a neurodynamic sliding technique can increase hamstring flexibility in healthy, male soccer players.
  • Source