Sports Medicine

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 289–299 | Cite as

Flexibility and Its Effects on Sports Injury and Performance

  • Gilbert W. GleimEmail author
  • Malachy P. McHugh
Leading Article


Flexibility measures can be static [end of ROM (range of motion)], dynamic-passive (stiffness/compliance) or dynamic-active (muscle contracted, stiffness/compliance). Dynamic measures of flexibility are less dependent on patient discomfort and are more objective. Acute and chronic changes in flexibility are likely to occur with stretching exercises, but it is difficult to distinguish between changes in stretch tolerance as opposed to changes in muscle stiffness. How flexibility is measured impacts these findings. There is no scientifically based prescription for flexibility training and no conclusive statements can be made about the relationship of flexibility to athletic injury.

The literature reports opposing findings from different samples, frequently does not distinguish between strain, sprain and overuse injury, and rarely uses the proper denominator of exposure.There is basic scientific evidence to suggest that active warm-up may be protective against muscle strain injury but clinical research is equivocal on this point. Typically, specific flexibility patterns are associated with specific sports and even positions within sports. The relationship of flexibility to athletic performance is likely to be sport-dependent. Decreased flexibility has been associated with increased in-line running and walking economy. Increased stiffness may be associated with increased isometric and concentric force generation, and muscle energy storage may be best manifested by closely matching muscle stiffness to the frequency of movement in stretch-shorten type contractions.


Adis International Limited Soccer Player Hamstring Injury Passive Stiffness Static Flexibility 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nicholas Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic TraumaLenox Hill HospitalNew YorkUSA

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