Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports

Cover image for Vol. 26 Issue 6

Edited By: Stephen Harridge

Impact Factor: 2.896

ISI Journal Citation Reports © Ranking: 2014: 11/81 (Sport Sciences)

Online ISSN: 1600-0838

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Hamstrings functional properties in athletes with high musculo-skeletal flexibility

At the cellular level, the relationship between force and length (commonly referred to as the length tension relationship) is essentially determined by the degree of overlap between the thick (myosin) and thin (actin) filaments. However, in vivo, the mechanical output about a joint (angle-torque relationship) is also affected by elastic elements in series with the muscle fibres. These tendinous structures act as mechanical buffer limiting muscle fascicle strain during elongation of the whole muscle-tendon complex. In the study by Moltubakk and colleagues published in this month’s issue of SJMSS, the passive and active torque characteristics of the knee flexors were studied in 21 elite female rhythmic gymnasts. These athletes, who spent on average >4 hours per week stretching as part of their training regimen, were compared with similarly aged female athletes (non-gymnasts) where stretching made up a much smaller proportion of overall training time (2% vs 18%). As might be expected, tests of flexibility and passive resistance to stretch indicated a greater flexibility in the gymnasts. However, despite exhibiting no difference in peak knee flexor torque (determined isokinetically at 60°/s), the gymnasts displayed significantly different torque-angle characteristics. The gymnasts reached their peak torque in the more extended positions and when active torque was corrected for passive resistance to stretch, the gymnasts produced more mechanical work, and were able to maintain ≥ 70% of peak torque over a larger range of joint excursion. Put simply, in addition to being more flexible the gymnasts also had a markedly superior functional range of movement.

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The December issue marks 25 years of the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Sciences in Sports. It is also its final printed issue as from 2016 it will published monthly as an online only journal. Appropriately, this issue features two special supplements. The first is the proceedings of the Saltin Symposium: Exercise and Integrative Physiology which was held in Copenhagen earlier this year to celebrate the life and work of Professor Bengt Saltin, the first editor of SJMSS. The second is Bengt’s final review, co-written with Bente Pedersen on Exercise as Medicine. We hope that this issue serves as both a celebration of 25 years of SJMSS and a fitting tribute to Bengt Saltin’s outstanding contribution to exercise science and medicine.

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