Hawkins et al., (2001) suggested that muscular strains are the single most commonly reported injuries in English professional soccer. This data is consistent with previous research, which reported similar findings (Hawkins and Fuller, 1999; Lewin, 1989; Ekstrand and Gillquist, 1983a, 1983b). This epidemiological research (studies of the incidence of injury) sought to identify the causes of occupational injury in professional soccer players and served as the exploratory level of research on the nature of soccer injuries. Further research has attempted to investigate the relationship between extrinsic and intrinsic factors and the incidence of muscular injury, particularly hamstring muscle injury (Orchard et al., 1997; Orchard 2001).
Various factors have been implicated in the cause of hamstring injury, including adverse neural tension (Turl and George, 1998), fatigue (Roberts and Smith, 1989; Mair et al., 1996), lack of muscular strength (Worrell and Perrin, 1992), muscular imbalances (Bennell et al., 1998), previous injury (Taylor et al., 1993; Orchard, 2001), and a lack of muscular extensibility (Ekstrand and Gillquist, 1983a, 1983b). Further research by Keller et al (1987) felt that "tightness" or "stiffness" was a major causative factor for muscle injury. Ekstrand and Gillquist (1983a, 1983b) advocated stretching as a strategy to reduce hamstring muscle injuries by increasing extensibility.
Based on these recommendations, stretching techniques have been
developed in the training and rehabilitation of elite level soccer
players at both youth and senior level (Ekstrand and Gillquist,
1983a Safran et al. 1989). Stretching is intended to improve range
of motion (ROM), prevent injury and reduce muscle soreness after
physical activity (Van Mechelen et al., 1993; Safran et al., 1989).
Stretching for the above goals has become a paradigm within professional
soccer which, once established, has become almost ritualistic -
as demonstrated before every Premiership match in England. In common
with other training practices in professional soccer, the adoption
of stretching has occurred despite a lack of sound physiological
or scientific evidence to support its use as an injury prevention
strategy (Reilly et al. 1993). Some authors have questioned the
efficacy of stretching as an injury prevention strategy, as much
of the evidence supporting its use remains empirical (Smith, 1994).