The effects of flexibility training on exercise-induced muscle damage in young men with limited hamstrings flexibility
School of Medical and Health Sciences
Adaptations to 6 weeks of supervised hamstring stretching training and its potential impact on symptoms of eccentric exercise‐induced muscle damage (EIMD) were studied in 10 young, untrained men with limited hamstrings flexibility. Participants performed unilateral flexibility training (experimental leg; EL) on an isokinetic dynamometer, while the contralateral limb acted as control (CL). Hip range of motion (ROM), passive, isometric, and concentric torques, active optimum angle, and biceps femoris and semitendinosus muscle thickness and ultrasound echo intensity were assessed both before and after the training. Additionally, muscle soreness was assessed before and after an acute eccentric exercise bout in both legs (EL and CL) at post‐training only. Hip ROM increased (P < .001) only in EL after the training (EL = 10.6° vs CL = 1.6°), but no changes (P > .05) in other criterion measurements were observed. After a bout of eccentric exercise at the end of the program, isometric and dynamic peak torques and muscle soreness ratings were significantly altered at all time points equally in EL and CL. Also, active optimum angle was reduced immediately, 48 and 72 hours post‐exercise, and hip ROM was reduced at 48 and 72 hours equally in EL and CL. Finally, biceps femoris muscle thickness was significantly increased at all time points, and semitendinosus thickness and echo intensity significantly increased at 72 hours, with no significant differences between legs. The stretching training protocol significantly increased hip ROM; however, it did not induce a protective effect on EIMD in men with tight hamstrings.