The main purpose of the present review was to examine the scientific literature on the effects of physical education-based stretching programs on hamstring extensibility in schoolchildren aged 6-11 years. For this purpose relevant studies were searched from ten electronic databases dated up through May 2015. Of the 25 potentially relevant articles identified and retrieved for more detailed evaluation, only eight studies were included in the present review because they met the inclusion criteria. The overall results showed that incorporating hamstring stretching as a part of physical education classes produces a significant improvement in the scores of the tests: straight leg raise and classic sit-and-reach, for the experimental groups, but not for control groups. Stretching programs can be included in Physical Education classes, specifically during the warm-up and the cool down periods in order to improve hamstring extensibility. Although it seems that the stretching exercises in the warm-up period could be less effective in gaining flexibility in school children. Studies that use a stretching volume between 4 and 7 minutes per session and 2-4 training classes per week, obtain statistically significant improvements on the levels of hamstring flexibility in the experimental groups. However, after a five-week detraining period, children revert back to their initial flexibility levels. Therefore, it seems appropriate that physical education teachers should implement stretching programs to improve the students’ flexibility during the Physical Education classes.

Publication timeframe:
2 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Social Sciences, Education, other