Objective: To assess the effects of eccentric exercise on optimum lengths of the knee flexors and extensors during the preseason in professional soccer.
Design: Twenty-eight athletes from a professional Spanish soccer team (Division II) were randomly assigned to an eccentric exercise intervention group (EG) or a control group (CG). Over the four-week period two athletes from the control group suffered RF injuries and two athletes were contracted by other clubs. After these exclusions, both groups (EG, n=13; and CG, n=11) performed regular soccer training during the four-week preseason period.
Results: After the four weeks, the optimum lengths of the knee flexors were significantly (P<0.05) increased by 2.3 degrees in the CG and by 4.0 degrees in the EG. The change in the EG was significantly (P<0.05) greater than that of the CG. The optimum lengths of the knee extensors were significantly increased only in the EG by 6.5 degrees . Peak torque levels and ratios of quadriceps to hamstring (Q/H ratios) were not significantly altered throughout the study for either group.
Conclusion: Eccentric exercise can increase the optimum lengths of both the knee extensors and knee extensors flexors during the preseason in professional soccer.