University of Limerick Statement about the SpeedFlexer

 

3.5 Instrumentation

Hamstring flexibility was measured using The Speed Flexer Device. Developer: Ned Burns © 2010 JFC Manufacturing Limited Ireland. Currently no gold standard measurement technique for hamstring flexibility exists (Foreman et al 2006) and various measurement techniques are utilised in to measure hamstring flexibility in clinical practice. Although currently no validation for this device exits, this device was chosen due to its practicality, simplicity of use and potential for future use in the sporting field.
 
The relationship between previous hamstring injury and hamstring muscle flexibility in male adolescent Gaelic footballers
Authors: Michael Costello, Dr Amanda Clifford, Dr Amanda O Connell
 

Clinical Implications

The results from this study propose some interesting implications for clinical practice. Interesting findings in relation to variations in hamstring flexibility between different age groups in adolescence were observed. Gaelic footballers in the later stages of adolescence had significantly reduced hamstring flexibility when compared to younger players and this may predispose them to a greater risk of hamstring injuries.
 
Although age cannot be altered, this may be a specific population to whom stretching or eccentric exercise programmes may prove beneficial, whereby it could improve flexibility and thus potentially reduce risk of hamstring injuries. If future studies confirm the validation and reliability of The Speed Flexor device, it may be a useful resource to this population to regularly monitor hamstring flexibility themselves, without the need for assistance of health care clinicians due to its simplicity and ease of use.
 

Flexibility can enhance your performance of most sports

The first issue to address is dynamic range of motion. If an inflexible athlete can improve dynamic flexibility by just one inch per stride (fixing nothing else) the athlete can make monumental improvements in their speed. All other things being equal, taking less steps over the same distance will get you there faster.
 

Tying the FMS into Speed Training: The Active Straight Leg Raise
By Jared Wooleve

 
If you’re familiar with the Functional Movement Screen (FMS), the active straight leg raise screen (ASLR) is extremely important to look at before developing speed.  The active straight leg raise is a screen to look at hip extension and hip flexion happening simultaneously.
 
The  Active Straight Leg Raise is looking to see if you can control your spinal position while you flex one hip with the opposite hip staying in extension.  This is exactly what running is, except on the ground.  When we run, one of our feet will strike the ground, apply force into the ground, and finally transfer the force from the ground into speed by extending through the ankle, knee, and hip simultaneously.  In order to be fast, we need to be able to flex one hip while keeping the other in extension without moving the spine.  If we can all agree that the Active Straight Leg Raise is important in developing an athlete, the big question is… what do we do about it.
 
Now let’s talk a little about speed training.  If an athlete has a straight leg raise dysfunction, they are not going to be as explosive off the line as they could be.
 

You Must Build Football Speed Specific Flexibility

Simple. If your hamstrings, hip flexors or hips are tight, you won’t be fast. Tight Hip Flexors have been called “breaks.” If you want to get faster for football, go stretch and improve  your flexibility. - Raphael Brandon. S&C Coach to Pro & Olympic athletes PhD Head
 

Injury and flexibility

For example, one study showed that those who stretched regularly suffered fewer injuries, while another showed that tighter players suffered more groin-strain injuries, and a third showed a relationship between tightness and knee pain.
 
These findings seem to confirm the correlation between muscular tightness and increased muscle-strain risks.. On the other hand, one study of sprinters found that 4° less hip flexion led to a greater incidence of hamstring strain. The reason for these apparently findings is the specific nature of each sport. With endurance running, the ankle, knee and hip joints stay within the mid-range of motion throughout the whole gait cycle and therefore maximum static ROM will have little effect. Sprinting and football involve movements of much larger ROM and so depend more heavily on good flexibility.
 
Poor flexibility in the hip flexor muscles may lead to an anterior pelvic tilt, where the pelvis is tilted down to the front. This increases the lumbar lordosis, which is the sway in the lower back. This in turn can lead to a tightening of the lower-back muscles and predispose the back to injury.
 
A flexibility/injury relationship also exists for young adolescents. During the pubertal growth spurt, the tendons and muscles tighten dramatically as they lag behind the rapid bone growth. For young athletes this poor flexibility may lead to injury problems, especially tendinitis-type injuries such as Osgood Schlatters. Thus regular stretching is essential for young athletes. Remember it is biological age that counts, so children in the same team or squad may need to pay extra attention to flexibility at different times
Don’t overdo it!
 
As a general guide, when it comes to preventing injury, one should make sure that athletes have a normal ROM is all the major muscle groups and correct postural alignment in the back. For instance, hamstring mobility should allow for 90° of straight-leg hip flexion. Any further ROM should be developed only if analysis of the sport’s movements suggests that extra mobility is required.

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Speedflexer Team
Ned Burns

Ned is the creator of the SpeedFlexer. He has worked with various schools and sports organisations in Ireland.

One of the main problems he noticed was the lack of flexibility in children, teenagers and adults. He identified the need to accurately record how flexible people's legs are. This has resulted in the SpeedFlexer.

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Conor Hayes

Conor is a former Galway hurler who won three All-Ireland winning medals with his County, twice as captain.

He then went on to manage the Galway Senior hurling team, and is still involved in coaching and training.

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Dr. Liam Hennessy

Dr. Hennessy is a leading coaching and fitness expert in Setanta College, Dublin.

He is a sports physiologist, and is currently the National Fitness Director of the IRFU. Liam is also Padraig Harringtons fitness adviser and coach.

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