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ANTONIO PALMA

THE EVALUATION OF MUSCLE FLEXIBILITY IN YOUNG SOCCER PLAYERS

  • Authors: Bellafiore, M.; Battaglia, G.; Caramazza, G.; Tona, P.; Palma, A.
  • Publication year: 2011
  • Type: Proceedings (TIPOLOGIA NON ATTIVA)
  • Key words: Muscle flexibility, football, injuries, performance
  • OA Link: http://hdl.handle.net/10447/57994

Abstract

Introduction The agility and coordination are two of many attributes required to become a successful player. Several reports have showed that the training of muscle flexibility leads to improvements both in the coordinative and technical performance, and in the process of motor learning (1). The aim of our study was to evaluate the flexibility of shoulders, trunk and lower limbs in young male soccer players compared to that of sedentary subjects. Methods Twelve players (age: 20.00 ± 3.74 years; weight: 74.25 ± 6.80 kg; height: 178.92 ± 6.65 cm) belonging all to the same soccer team and ten sedentary subjects (age: 21.8 ± 3.12 years; weight: 73.60 ± 5.29 kg; height: 179.50 ± 5.78) were tested. The players had 11.75 ± 3.57 years of experience in soccer game and 58% of them had undergone injuries (58% in upper limbs and 1.7% of them also in lower limbs). The sedentary subjects presented about 30% of injuries in upper limbs and 3% also in lower limbs. Low back and hamstring flexibility was measured by the sit and reach test. The range of motion of hip abduction was measured with a goniometer. The flexibility of shoulders was evaluated by a full circumduction of both arms and the lateral flexion of trunk with a measuring scale fixed to the wall. Results Soccer players had a higher flexibility of shoulders and trunk than sedentary subjects; however this difference was not significant (p>0.05). Moreover, the players showed a significant increase in range of motion of hip abduction compared with sedentary subjects and, in particular, the right hip was more flexible compared with the left one. The range of motion of hip abduction was not related to the age and body mass index of the soccer players. Discussion The difference of flexibility between the body upper and lower part in soccer players may be due to a scarce and unspecific training of shoulder and trunk flexibility compared with legs. This difference might provoke a postural unbalance with higher risks of injuries (2) due to falls and lower technical-coordinative performance. References (1) Gleim GW, McHugh MP. Flexibility and its effects on sports injury and performance. Sports Med 1997; 24: 289-99. (2) Witvrouw E et al. Muscle flexibility as a risk factor for developing injuries in male professional soccer players. A prospective study. Am J Sports Med 2003; 31: 41-6.