Objectives: To determine if there is evidence of abnormal hip joint range of motion (ROM) in youth and senior team professional footballers compared with matched controls.
Design: A case control study design was used.
Participants: 40 professional footballers (20 youth and 20 senior team) and 40 matched control subjects.
Main outcome measures: Bilateral measurements of passive hip internal rotation (IR), external rotation (ER), flexion, abduction and extension were made together with Faber's test and the hip quadrant.
Results: Youth and senior footballers had significantly less IR and Faber's range and significantly higher abduction than their respective controls (p < 0.001). Senior footballers also had significantly reduced IR (p < 0.05) and Faber's (p < 0.001) than the youth team. A higher proportion of senior footballers had positive hip quadrants (45% of all hips) compared to all other groups. No significant difference in hip ROM was found between dominant and non-dominant legs.
Conclusions: A specific pattern of hip ROM was found in professional footballers which appeared to be different from controls. These changes may demonstrate the early stages of hip degeneration to which it has been shown ex-professional players are prone to. Hip joint ROM exercises may be necessary in these players to restore normal movement and prevent the onset of hip osteoarthritis (OA).