Original research title: ‘A 90 minute soccer match induces eccentric hamstring muscles fatigue (Kakavas et al., 2021)’
Authors: Kakavas, G., Maliaropoulos, N., Gabbett, T., Mitrotasios, M., Van Dyk, N., Bikos, G., and Maffulli, N.
Hamstring injuries are the most prevalent muscle injuries in both amateur and professional soccer (football) athletes. Previously, eccentric strength deficits and between-limb imbalances have been associated with an increased risk of muscle injuries.
This study investigates whether fatigue significantly reduces peak eccentric hamstring strength after a professional football match. Changes in eccentric hamstring strength were measured during the Nordic hamstring exercise on VALD’s NordBord to find out whether fatigue induced by a 90-minute match influenced elite professional football athletes:
1) eccentric hamstring strength; and,
2) between limb imbalance in eccentric hamstring strength.
Despite the plausible link, no study has investigated these variables in elite athletes.
There is a significant decrease in eccentric hamstring strength at the end of a match. However, no difference in between-limb imbalance in eccentric hamstring strength was found. If the hamstrings are not able to produce sufficient eccentric strength to decelerate the limb during the latter part of the swing phase, eccentric overload could cause tears at the musculotendinous unit.
These findings highlight not only the susceptibility of eccentric hamstring strength to fatigue but also the influence imposed by movement speed during a professional football match. Resistance to fatigue and eccentric strength, particularly at high speeds, should be given greater consideration in conditioning for football athletes.
Following a professional football match, there is a significant decrease in eccentric hamstring strength but no between-limb imbalance. Coaching and medical staff need to ensure that athletes’ eccentric hamstring strength is well-developed and resistant to fatigue.