Effects of Football Training and Match-Play on Hamstring Muscle Strength and Passive Hip and Ankle Range of Motion during the Competitive Season.
Abstract: Deficits in hamstring muscle strength and in hip range of motion (ROM) have been considered risk factors for hamstring muscle injuries. However, there is a lack of information on how chronic exposure to regular football training affects hamstring muscle strength and hip ROM. The aim of this study was to examine the longitudinal effect of football training and competition during a complete season on hamstring muscle strength and hip ROM in football players. A total of 26 semi-professional football players underwent measurements of isometric hamstring muscle strength and passive hip flexion/extension, and internal/external hip rotation (IR/ER) ROM during the football season (pre-season, mid-season, end-season). Compared to pre-season, hamstring muscle strength increased in the dominant (+11.1%, p = 0.002) and non-dominant (+10.5%, p = 0.014) limbs in the mid-season. Compared to mid-season, hamstring strength decreased in the dominant (−9.3%, p = 0.034) limb at end-season. Compared to the pre-season, hip extension ROM decreased in mid-season in the dominant (−31.7%, p = 0.007) and non-dominant (−44.1%, p = 0.004) limbs, and further decreased at end-season (−49.0%, p = 0.006 and −68.0%, p < 0.001) for the dominant and non-dominant limbs. Interlimb asymmetry for hip IR ROM increased by 57.8% (p < 0.002) from pre-season to mid-season. In summary, while hamstring muscle strength increased during the first half of the football season in football players, a progressive reduction in hip extension ROM was observed throughout the season. The reduced hip extension ROM suggests a reduced mobility of the hip flexors, e.g., iliopsoas, produced by the continuous practice of football. Consequently, hip-specific stretching and conditioning exercises programs should be implemented during the football season.
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