PNF & Static Stretching on Hamstring Muscles in Volleyball Players

PNF & Static Stretching on Hamstring Muscles in Volleyball Players

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Volleyball players need flexible hamstrings to bend over for digs.

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While stretching is sometimes overlooked in volleyball training programs, according to Dr. Oksana Matvienko of the University of Northern Iowa, flexibility improves a volleyball player's overall performance. Flexible players are able to reach further for balls and get into a position quickly to make more plays. Tight hamstrings limit a volleyball player's performance and increase their risk of injury. Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation and static stretching are two effective stretching techniques that can be incorporated into a volleyball player's routine to loosen up their hamstrings.

PNF and Static Stretching

Using static and PNF stretching to improve flexibility in the lower extremity muscles, like the hamstrings, will help volleyball players get into a technically-sound squatting position as they get low for digs. Static stretching involves getting into a position where your hamstrings are elongated and then holding that position for time. PNF stretching, however, requires the assistance of a partner and involves your partner placing your hamstrings in an elongated position, followed by a short period where you're actively contracting your hamstrings against the resistance of your partner and ending with your partner actively stretching your hamstrings again. Dr. Matvienko suggests static and PNF stretching as among the most effective techniques for volleyball players to improve their flexibility.

Effective Stretching

In addition to performance enhancements, a lack of flexibility can lead to more serious problems if it is not a significant component of a volleyball athlete's training program. Flexibility imbalances in volleyball players increases the risk of injury; female volleyball players in particular have a greater tendency of suffering from lower limb imbalances. Schedule static and PNF stretching of your hamstrings immediately after volleyball practices or competitions when your muscles are still warm. If you have the day off from volleyball, participate in light jogging or biking to increase temperature and blood flow to your muscles. This will help you get a better stretch. Avoid PNF or static stretching before volleyball practice or games, as their effect on your neuromuscular system can affect your performance. Perform each static or PNF stretch three to five times.

Static Stretching Techniques

To statically target your hamstrings, incorporate seated and standing hamstring stretches. Perform both stretches in the gym immediately following practice. Seated hamstring stretch involves sitting on an exercise mat with your legs extended out in front of you. Bend forward at the waist and reach toward your toes, extending your fingers beyond your feet if possible. Go as far as you comfortably can and then hold that position. For a standing hamstring stretch, set your feet to shoulder-width apart with toes pointed forward and then bend forward at the waist, reaching down toward your toes. Keep your knees straight and lower as far as you comfortably can, then hold that position.

PNF Stretching Techniques

To stretch your hamstrings using the PNF technique, lie on your back with your legs extended. Have a teammate or your team's trainer lift one of your legs up toward vertical as high as you can comfortably withstand while keeping your knee straight. Hold that position for 10 seconds. Then, have your partner hold your leg still as you attempt to push it down into the floor for 10 seconds. Relax and have your partner finish with another 10 seconds of stretching. Your partner will likely be able to stretch your leg slightly further the second time. If you don't have a partner, perform this stretch with a towel or exercise band. Loop the towel or band around your foot and hold the ends, pulling your leg toward you to stretch and holding the ends tight during the contraction phase.


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