Hamstring shortening impairs performance jumps, sprints and kicks in soccer?


      In football, the moments of emotion occur with high intensity and have the need to use high muscular power of the athlete, as in sprinting, tackling and kicking (Helgerud, 2004). Not only power is important in these movements, but coordination capacity to perform efficiently the stretch-shortening cycle of muscle groups required (GARCIA-PINILLOS et al., 2014).

     Therefore, a limited flexibility makes the range of motion follow the same path and it is believed that this fact increases the risk of injuries of athletes and impairs performance in sports where flexibility is more important (Rahnama, Lees, & Bambaecichi, 2005).

    Several articles have reported the relationship of hamstring injuries in the sports practice (WITVROUW et al., 2003; CROISIER et al., 2008), and reductions in muscle performance (LEHANCE et al., 2009).

    Taking into account the reported Wilson, Murphy and Pryor (1994), a muscle with greater length has more fat compared to shorter muscles, and thus makes the drive more intense muscle tendon. This factor may increase the contractile force production.

    We know that the execution of stretching has only a transient effect which exerts permanent effect is practiced continuously for at least a certain period so increasing the flexibility and muscle strength (SHRIER 2004). (Check out our article on the chronic effect of stretching).

    In the current study, Garcia-Pinillos et al. (2015), recruited football semi-professional athletes and divided them into two groups, one with proper hamstring flexibility and the other group consisted of athletes with shortening in the region. The authors evaluated the performance in kicking force, impulse, sprint and agility test. The expectation of the authors was that following the literature athletes with shortening would have degraded performance.

    The results corresponded with the hypothesis of the authors and all variables muscle shortening group had lower performance. Regarding flexibility the findings reaffirm placing Favero et al. (2009), which reports that the low flexibility interfere directly in athletic performance. Adequate flexibility brought about positive interference in the vertical jump as well as the findings of Turki- Belkhiria et al (2014), which, used an 8-week stretching protocol and noted significant improvements in the performance of such capacity.

    Because it is a sport that can be determined in a jump, a trip, a kick or a providential sprint, care with respect to these capabilities requiring high muscular strength is important.

   Therefore, the use of assessment of the posterior thigh stretching flexibility (Check out our article on flexibility assessment methods) and stretching protocols can be great allies to prevent muscle injuries and improvements in football performance.

Caring for athletes stretching levels can be decisive for significant results in sports that require high intensity.

Do you value the flexibility of its athletes often? What is the occurrence of shortening hamstring? Comment, big hug.