Objectives: To investigate the effect of competitive football match congestion on hamstring strength and lower limb flexibility.
Design: Repeated measures.
Setting: Elite male youth football.
Participants: Fifteen male elite youth football players from the national football association centre of excellence were included (age = 15.81 ±0.65 years, height = 171.95 ±6.89 cm, weight = 65.93 ±7.53 kg).
Main outcome measures: Hamstring strength and pain, ankle dorsiflexion, hip extension, knee extension and flexion range of motion.
Results: Hamstring strength was highest at baseline and significantly reduced at 24 (p = 0.001, mean difference -0.19 Nm/Kg, CI95 -0.28, -0.1) and 48 h post-match 1 (p = 0.002, mean difference -0.16 Nm/Kg, CI95 -0.25, -0.07). Strength recovered by match day 2 before significantly reducing again 24 h post-match 2 (p = 0.012, mean difference -0.17 Nm/Kg, CI95 -0.29, -0.04). Pain was lowest at baseline and increased in the post-match periods (p < 0.05) with standardised effect sizes ranging from 0.07 to 0.42. Passive knee flexion range decreased post-match (p < 0.01) with mean differences of 1.5°-2.7°. The other flexibility measures remained unaffected by match play.
Conclusion: Isometric hamstring strength and pain can be considered for inclusion in-season to monitor player's post-match hamstring recovery characteristics during congested match fixtures.
Keywords: Injury; Posterior thigh; Recovery; Soccer match.
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