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Hamstring-and-Lower-Back Flexibility in Male Amateur Soccer Players

van der Horst, Nick PT, MSc; Priesterbach, Annique MD, MSc; Backx, Frank MD, PhD; Smits, Dirk-Wouter PT, PhD

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: January 2017 - Volume 27 - Issue 1 - p 20–25
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000294
Original Research

Objective: This study investigated the hamstring-and-lower-back flexibility (HLBF) of male adult amateur soccer players, using the sit-and-reach test (SRT), with a view to obtaining population-based reference values and to determining whether SRT scores are associated with player characteristics.

Design: Cross-sectional cohort study.

Setting: Teams from high-level Dutch amateur soccer competitions were recruited for participation.

Participants: Dutch male high-level amateur field soccer players (n = 449) of age 18 to 40 years. Players with a hamstring injury at the moment of SRT-measurement or any other injury that prevented them from following the SRT protocol were excluded.

Main Outcome Measures: Sit-and-reach test scores were measured and then population-based reference values were calculated as follows: >2SD below mean (defining “very low” HLBF), 1SD-2SD below mean (“low” HLBF), 1SD below mean to 1SD above mean (“normal” HLBF), 1SD-2SD above mean (“high” HLBF), and >2SD above mean (“very high” HLBF). Whether SRT scores were correlated with player characteristics was determined using a Pearson correlation coefficient or Spearman rho.

Results: Sit-and-reach test scores ranged from 0 to 43.5 cm (mean 22.0 cm, SD 9.2). The cutoff points for population-based reference values were <3.5 cm for “very low”, 3.5 to 13.0 cm for “low”, 13.0 to 31.0 cm for “normal”, 31.0 to 40.5 cm for “high”, and >40.5 cm for “very high”. Sit-and-reach test scores were significantly associated with players' height (ρ = −0.132, P = 0.005), body mass index (r = 0.114, P = 0.016), and history of anterior cruciate ligament surgery (P < 0.001).

Conclusions: This study is the first to describe the HLBF of amateur soccer players. The SRT reference values with cutoff points may facilitate evidence-based decision making regarding HLBF, and the SRT might be a useful tool to assess injury risk, performance, or for diagnostic purposes.

Department of Rehabilitation, Nursing Science & Sports, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neurosciences, University Medical Center Utrecht, the Netherlands.

Corresponding Author: Nick van der Horst, PT, MSc, Department of Rehabilitation, Nursing Science & Sports, Rudolf Magnus Institute of Neurosciences, University Medical Center Utrecht 85500, 3508 GA Utrecht, the Netherlands (

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Received December 05, 2014

Accepted October 03, 2015

Copyright © 2017 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.