Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of endurance activities designed to simulate the physiological demands of soccer match-play and training, on leg strength, electromechanical delay, and knee laxity.
Methods: Eight recreational soccer players completed four exercise trials in random order: 1) a prolonged intermittent high intensity shuttle run (PHISR) which required subjects to complete a total distance of 9600 m in a form simulating the pattern of physical activity in soccer match-play (activity mode; rest-to-work intervals; approximately 90 min duration), 2) a shuttle-run (SR), (3) a treadmill run (TR) which required subjects to complete an equivalent distance at a running speed corresponding to 70% VO2max, and 4) a control condition consisting of no exercise.
Results: Results from repeated measures ANOVA revealed significant condition (PHISR; SR; TR; control) by time (pre; mid; post) interactions for peak torque (PT: knee extension and flexion: 1.05 rad.s-1), EMD and anterior tibio-femoral displacement (TFD) (P < 0.05). Impairment to indices of knee joint performance was observed in PHISR, SR, and TR trials. The greatest decrement occurred in PHISR and SR trials (up to 44%). Knee extensor and flexor strength performance near to full knee extension (0.44 rad knee flexion) was not changed following the functionally-relevant endurance activities.
Conclusions: Even though strength performance near to full knee extension was preserved following acute endurance activities, the risk of ligamentous injury may be increased by concomitant impairment to EMD and anterior TFD.