Evaluating Hamstring Health and Testing Application For Firefighters

The Evaluated Research

Wan, X., Qu, F., Garrett, W. E., Liu, H., & Yu, B. (2017). Relationships among hamstring muscle optimal length and hamstring flexibility and strength. Journal of sport and health science, 6(3), 275–282. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6188988/ 

Researchers Wan, Qu, Garrett, Liu and Yu (2017) explored possible risk factors for one of the most common injuries in sports, hamstring muscle strain, or typically referred to as a hamstring injury. These researchers wanted to understand the correlation between muscle optimal length and the strength or flexibility. In order to do so, they collected 21 college students to partake in the study tht are currently active in recreational sports or exercise. The researchers collected eleven males and ten females with zero history of hamstring or lower limb injury that could prevent the completion of testing tasks, acquired consent from subject, and acquired approval to use human subjects for research. The testing protocol included a straight leg raise to track hamstring flexibility and an isometric strength test to find optimal muscle length and strength. A motion analysis system was utilized to track hip movement during the PSLR (passive straight leg raises). Data shows us that the flexibility score drastically effects the length-tension relationship of the muscles in the hamstring (Wan et al., 2017). The researchers used the information and data collected from this experiment to conclude that hamstring optimal muscle length is indeed correlated to hamstring flexibility, but not technically correlated with hamstring strength. In regards to length based on position, an individual’s hamstring optimal muscle length would be longer than what is indicated during a standing position (Wan et al., 2017). 

Practical Application To Department Wellness

In regards to optimal muscle length and hamstring flexibility, presenting the works of Wan et al.  (2017), we can explain the need for injury management programs for first responders that monitor flexibility. Injury management programs are coordinated and facilitated daily, mainly toward sport athletes, but the same concepts should be carried over to the tactical athlete world. If firefighters are seen as athletes, I feel that the awareness of the need for these programs would grow. Whether it be annual assessments, such as movement screens, or supervised strength and conditioning sessions, departments could use the information on optimal muscle length to organize effective testing protocols to evaluate risk of injury. I truly believe warm-ups should focus on mobility, movement prep, and muscle-fiber recruitment to prepare the tactical athlete for performance. I also believe there should be a prescription of daily maintenance work that involves mobility and stability tasks, low intensity active recovery, and movement prep tasks. We can learn a lot about the relation that optimal muscle length has with hamstring flexibility.

Written by Hussien Jabai

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