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PEAK PLANTAR FORCE IN ELITE SOCCER PLAYERS FOLLOWING ACL RECONSTRUCTION: GREATER SYMMETRY AFTER 9 MONTHS WHEN RUNNING
  1. Athol Thomson1,2,
  2. Rod Whiteley1,
  3. Einar Einarsson1,
  4. Chris Bleakley2
  1. 1Aspetar, Doha, Qatar
  2. 2University of Ulster, Belfast, United Kingdom

    Abstract

    Background Meeting specific objective discharge criteria after ACL reconstruction (ACLR) or delaying return to sport (RTS) until nine months post ACLR decreases the risk of re-injury.

    Objective Compare plantar forces during running in two groups of soccer players: cases (5–10 months post ACLR) vs controls (no history of ACLR).We also undertook within subjects comparison (injured vs uninjured limb). Players were arbitrarily divided into two groups (≥9 months post ACLR or <9 months post ACLR) and peak plantar forces and symmetry across different running speeds compared.

    Design Case-control study.

    Setting Elite male soccer players.

    Participants Sixteen football players (age 26±4 yrs, weight 74±6 kg, height 178±6 cm) post ACLR on completion of criteria based rehabilitation and 16 uninjured players (28±4 yrs, 77±9 kg, 179±6 cm) were recruited.

    Interventions In-shoe plantar force measured (Novel PedarX) while running on a treadmill at 12,14, and 16 km/h.

    Main Outcome Measurements Peak plantar forces of the injured and uninjured limbs in athletes <9 months post-ACLR and those ≥9 months ACLR were compared. Negative vales indicate relatively lower peak forces on the injured leg. Normative data was collected in uninjured players for comparison (N=16).

    Results Increasing asymmetry for peak plantar force was demonstrated at all running speeds in athletes <9 months post ACLR (n=11) compared to athletes ≥9 months (n=5). Increasing asymmetry was seen with increasing running speed and peaked at 16 km/h −32±11% asymmetry compared to −6±8%; ES=−2.8, p<0.01. Controls showed substantially less asymmetry at each running speed than <9 months ACLR players: 16 km/h (3.8±3% peak plantar force limb asymmetry).

    Conclusions Relative unloading of the ACLR limb is marked at higher running speeds for athletes <9 months post ACLR despite having completed all functional criteria required to permit return to play. These preliminary findings may help add further objective criteria to guide RTS following ACLR.

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