In our prior posts on injury prevention in sports we have highlighted the importance of training volume management, balance training, and strength training. Of all the training options, strength training is the most important due to its’ ability to cut an athlete’s risk of injury in half. Despite the evidence many healthy athletes focus a large percentage of time on static stretching either before or after practice. With time being a finite question we must ask if stretching reduces injury risk.
A large prospective study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine was conducted on the impact of hamstring flexibility on hamstring injury incidence in 450 high level amateur soccer players (Huisstede et al. 2016). The athletes’ hamstring flexibility was assessed on the sit and reach test prior to the start of the season. The athletes were then followed for 1 year to determine the incidence of hamstring strains. 5% of the athletes sustained a hamstring injury during the season, but the authors noted no significant relationship between flexibility and risk of injury.
Athletes are encouraged to focus their sports preparation on proven injury reduction programs involving strength training, eccentric hamstring loading, and proprioception training.