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Effects of Static Stretching and Playing Soccer on Knee Laxity

Baumgart, Christian MSc*; Gokeler, Alli MSc; Donath, Lars PhD; Hoppe, Matthias W. MSc*; Freiwald, Jürgen PhD*

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: November 2015 - Volume 25 - Issue 6 - p 541–545
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000174
Original Research

Objective: This study investigated exercise-induced effects of static stretching and playing soccer on anterior tibial translation (ATT) of the knee joint.

Design: Randomized controlled trial.

Setting: University biomechanics laboratory.

Participants: Thirty-one athletes were randomly assigned into a stretching (26.9 ± 6.2 years, 1.77 ± 0.09 m, 67.9 ± 10.7 kg) and a control group (27.9 ± 7.4 years, 1.75 ± 0.08 m, 72.0 ± 14.9 kg). Thirty-one amateur soccer players in an additional soccer group (25.1 ± 5.6 years, 1.74 ± 0.10 m, 71.8 ± 14.8 kg). All participants had no history of knee injury requiring surgery and any previous knee ligament or cartilage injury.

Interventions: The stretching group performed 4 different static stretching exercises with a duration of 2 × 20 seconds interspersed with breaks of 10 seconds. The soccer group completed a 90-minute soccer-specific training program. The control group did not perform any physical activity for approximately 30 minutes.

Main Outcome Measures: Anterior tibial translation was measured with the KT-1000 knee arthrometer at forces of 67 N, 89 N, and maximal manual force (Max) before and after the intervention.

Results: There was a significant increase in ATT after static stretching and playing soccer at all applied forces. Maximal manual testing revealed a mean increase of ATT after static stretching of 2.1 ± 1.6 mm (P < 0.0005) and after playing soccer of 1.0 ± 1.5 mm (P = 0.001). The ATT increase after static stretching at 67 and 89 N is significantly higher than in controls. At maximum manual testing, significant differences were evident between all groups.

Conclusions: Static stretching and playing soccer increase ATT and may consequently influence mechanical factors of the anterior cruciate ligament. The ATT increase after static stretching was greater than after playing soccer.

Clinical Relevance: The observed increase in ATT after static stretching and playing soccer may be associated with changes in kinesthetic perception and sensorimotor control, activation of muscles, joint stability, overall performance, and higher injury risk.

*Research Center for Performance Diagnostics and Training Advice, University of Wuppertal, Wuppertal, Germany;

University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Center for Human Movement Sciences, Groningen, The Netherlands; and

Department of Sport, Exercise and Health, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.

Corresponding Author: Christian Baumgart, MSc, Research Center for Performance Diagnostics and Training Advice, University of Wuppertal, Fuhlrottstraße 10, Wuppertal 42119, Germany (

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received December 02, 2013

Accepted September 26, 2014

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