The aim of this study is to investigate the difference between post-match stretching and musculoskeletal lower-limb injuries in amateur footballers in a control and test sample. The objectives, which are relevant to the aim, are shown below.
1st Objective: To record all the musculoskeletal injuries during the duration of the research project.
2nd Objective: To develop a post-match stretching program for the participants in the test group.
A football match is described by Bangsbo (2006) as bouts of high-intensity exercise inter-spread with periods of lower intensity and recovery. This can cause a considerable amount of stress on the cardiovascular tissues (Yu 2010). According to Ekstrand (2011), around about 46% of all injuries in elite football are musculoskeletal injuries and 90% of those injuries are occurring in the lower limb (Rollo 2021). If muscles were less stiff than they would be able to “extend to a greater length” and this would allow a “greater absorption of energy in response to applied forces” (Magnusson 1998) which would mean, according to Stojanovic (2011), muscles could be less susceptible to injury. Stretching has been proven to optimize athletic performance while also reducing the incidence of muscle injury (Thacker 2004). It has been suggested that types of stretching have helped in “dispersing” muscle edema after exercise (Delextrat 2014). Static stretching has been proven to increase range of motion (ROM) and plays a big part in an activity that necessitates a great increase in static ROM relative to the flexibility of the athlete (Behm 2011). According to Weerapong (2004), other stretching techniques like ballistic and proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) are “effective” in increasing flexibility at joint ROM. There is, however, a gap in research about post-match stretching in the amateur level of football compared to the elite level.
The research method selected for this project will involve using an experimental design to measure to an independent variable of post-match stretching, on the dependent variable, musculoskeletal injuries, in football. The use of this method is to find out the difference between the two measures (Jones 2015:113). According to Jones (2015:114), this design will run with a test group that will be exposed to the independent variable and a control group that will not be exposed to the independent variable. This will be run over a 10-week period with a consistent sample size of 20 participants. The student will only be collecting data once a week for the first 5 weeks of the project before increasing the data collection to twice a week. The student plans to collect the data by being present at all training sessions and matches to keep a record of all players that stop playing due to a musculoskeletal injury. The student also plans to communicate with all players, by means electronically or face-to-face, about unavailability for training or matches due to a possible musculoskeletal injury that prevents them from participating.
For this research project, the student will be analyzing the data using an Independent T-Test through software called SPSS. A study on SPSS concluded that respondents benefitted from the SPSS application throughout their research project (Kusumah 2017). The student decided to use a parametric Independent T-Test for analyzing their data as the assumptions of normality have not been violated. According to Pallant (2007), testing the assumptions of normality can be done by running the Shapiro-Wilks test on SPSS. The student selected the Shapiro-Wilks test as the sample size as less than 50 participants were participating whereas the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test works with a sample size of over 50 participants (Gerald 2018)
The student has created a timetable with all the scheduled tasks with their start dates and the amount days left to complete them. The student will look to complete all the tasks listed and complete them on time to the best of their ability. This timetable can be found in the Appendix as Appendices 1.
The ethical considerations to be put in place for this research project will involve collecting a ‘gatekeeper’ letter from the organization before beginning the investigation. This will be carried out by keeping in contact with appropriate people to ensure it is completed before the beginning of the project. The participants will need to read and sign an informed consent form before participating in the experiment. This form can be found as Appendices 2 in the Appendix. As part of the Data Protection Act (2018), all private and confidential documents will be stored through an encrypted OneDrive, provided through the Perth College UHI link, which can only be accessed by the student and their supervisor.
Resources and Budget
This research project will only require a specific budget for the necessary recording equipment like pens and paper. The student plans to use a pen and paper to record their data as using an electronic device, like a smartphone, has the potential to become corrupt if the device is damaged (Zhang 2012). The student will also have to commit a lot of their own personal time to this research project by attending one training session and a match-day each week to collect the data. The student will also be using resistance bands as part of their research project in trialing the different methods of post-match stretching but they will have access to the resistance bands through an external source which will be a non-cost method.
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