Evaluation of functional limitations in female soccer players and their relationship with sports level--a cross sectional study

PLoS One. 2013 Jun 25;8(6):e66871. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066871. Print 2013.


The main objectives of the study: the aim of this study was to analyze: a) abnormalities in the length of lower limb muscles, b) the correctness of movement patterns, and c) the impact of functional limitations of muscles on the correctness of fundamental movement patterns in a group of female soccer players, in relation to their skill level.

Materials and methods: 21 female soccer players from Polish Ekstraklasa and 22 players from the 1(st) Division were tested for lower limb muscle length restrictions and level of fundamental movement skills (with the Fundamental Movement Screen™ test concept by Gray Cook). Chi-square test was used for categorical unrelated variables. Differences between groups in absolute point values were analyzed using the non-parametric Mann-Whitney U test. Statistical significance was set at p<0.05.

Results: Statistically significant higher number of measurements indicating an abnormal length of rectus femoris was observed in the 1st Division group (p = 0.0433). In the group of Ekstraklasa the authors obtained a significantly higher number of abnormal hamstring test results (p = 0.0006). Ekstraklasa players scored higher in the rotational stability test of the trunk (p = 0.0008), whereas the 1st Division players scored higher in the following tests: deep squat (p = 0.0220), in-line lunge (p = 0.0042) and active straight leg raise (p = 0.0125). The results suggest that there are different functional reasons affecting point values obtained in the FMS™ tests in both analyzed groups.

Conclusions: The differences in the flexibility of rectus femoris and hamstring muscle observed between female soccer players with different levels of training, may result from a long-term impact of soccer training on the muscle-tendon system and articular structures. Different causes of abnormalities in fundamental movement patterns in both analyzed groups suggest the need for tailoring prevention programs to the level of sport skills represented by the players.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthralgia / physiopathology
  • Athletes*
  • Athletic Performance / physiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / anatomy & histology
  • Lower Extremity / physiology
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Movement / physiology
  • Muscles / anatomy & histology
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Patellofemoral Joint / physiopathology
  • Soccer / physiology*
  • Young Adult

Grant support

Rehasport Clinic Fundation was the source of funding that have supported the work. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.