THE EFFECFTS OF COMBINING FOAM ROLLING AND PNF STRETCHING ON HAMSTRING FLEXIBILITY IN GYMNASTS
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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The purpose of this study was to explore the effects of combining foam rolling and PNF stretching on hamstring flexibility in gymnasts. Previous research has stated that flexibility is a key fitness component in gymnastics and is often used in talent identification of certain skills. It has been suggested that the best way to improve flexibility in gymnasts is via stretching. Foam rolling is a therapeutic modality that has been suggested to aid muscle flexibility through various physiological effects when combined with a flexibility enhancing modality. This study focused on using a combination of PNF stretching and foam rolling as an intervention method and study its effects upon active and passive straight leg raise hamstring flexibility, comparing the results to a PNF stretching only intervention and used the findings to argue in favour of the use of foam rolling as an aid to enhance flexibility. This study met the research aims by conducting practical research. This was carried out using an active and passive straight leg raise test to assess hamstring flexibility in both legs and the use of foam rolling combined with PNF stretching as an intervention protocol. The active and passive straight leg raise test results were analysed using SPSS software to identify any significant differences between improvements across each intervention group. Analysis of the findings demonstrated that the combination intervention produced significant findings only in active left leg raise when comparing PNF/FR with PNF (p = 0.046) and PNF/FR with Control (p = 0.028), but significant findings were not present in the other three tests. The main conclusion drawn from the study was that the proposed physiological effects of combining foam rolling with PNF stretching in relation to increasing hamstring flexibility was not supported. By failing to support its use, this study has demonstrated that the use of a foam roller prior to stretching is not an effective way of increasing hamstring flexibility in gymnasts. Despite the lack of previous research into this topic area, this study argues that with improvements made to the methodology by minimising external variables and increasing intervention length, there could be significant differences found.
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