Acute and Chronic Effects of Competition on Ankle Dorsiflexion ROM in Professional Football Players

Moreno-Pérez, V., Soler, A., Ansa, A., López-Samanes, Á., Madruga-Parera, M., Beato, M., Romero-Rodríguez, D.

Aim: This study aimed to investigate the acute (a single football match) and chronic (over the course of a whole season) effects of competition on ankle dorsiflexion range of motion (ROM) in professional football players.

Methods: Forty football players participated in the study. Ankle dorsiflexion ROM was measured at various time points to assess acute (pre-match, immediately post-match, and 48 hours post-match) and chronic (pre-season, mid-season, and post-season) effects of competitive football. A change of >2 cm between baseline measures (pre-match and pre-season) was considered indicative of restricted mobility. Training load for all matches was estimated using a global positioning system (GPS) and rating of perceived exertion (RPE).

Results: Pre-season ankle dorsiflexion ROM was greater compared to mid-season and post-season measurements, with a decrease of 8.1% to 13.8% in the dominant leg and 9.6% to 12.5% in the non-dominant leg. Around 30% of players showed restricted ankle dorsiflexion ROM values in the post-season compared to the pre-season. Acutely, ankle dorsiflexion ROM increased immediately after a match (by 5.8% in the dominant ankle), but this increase decreased by 2.65% 48 hours post-match.

Conclusion: The progressive decrease in ankle dorsiflexion ROM throughout the season may indicate an increased risk of injury among professional football players. This emphasizes the importance of implementing preventive measures such as stretching exercises and eccentric strength training. Additionally, specific recovery strategies should be considered to minimize alterations in ankle dorsiflexion ROM 48 hours post-match, potentially reducing injury risk and optimizing player performance.

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