Background: The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of 7 weeks of static hamstring stretching on flexibility and sprint performance in young soccer players.
Methods: One hundred and three healthy soccer players voluntarily participated in this study. Subjects were assigned to a control group (N.=22, 16.5±0.7 years, 174.0±5.4 cm and 68.0±6.8 kg) and an experimental group (N.=81, 18.9±1.8 years, 176.0±5.8 cm and 68.2±8.4 kg). All subjects performed a sit-and-reach and a 30-m Sprint Test to assess their flexibility performance and sprinting ability, respectively, before and after 7 weeks of static hamstring stretching program. The static stretching program consisted of 4 stretching exercises performed at the end of the training session during 6 days per week. Each stretch was held for 30-s and performed twice with a 15-s rest between.
Results: Flexibility was significantly (P<0.05) improved for the experimental group. This improvement was analyzed in all playing positions studied. There were significant differences (P<0.05) between pre and post 30-m Sprint Test in both groups. All soccer positions significantly (P<0.05) improved their performance in the experimental group. However, in the control group only defenders improved significantly (P<0.05) the sprint time.
Conclusions: The use of static stretching at the end of the training sessions prevents the negative effect of the load on hamstring flexibility and it can influence improvement in flexibility.