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160 Eccentric hamstring strength and sprinting performance changes during the off-season in Spanish footballers
  1. Jordi Vicens-Bordas1,2,3,4,
  2. Ernest Esteve2,3,
  3. Azahara Fort-Vanmeerhaeghe5,
  4. Martí Casals1,3,6,7,
  5. Thomas Bandholm8,
  6. Lasse Ishoi9,
  7. David Opar10,
  8. Anthony Shield11,12,
  9. Kristian Thorborg8,9
  1. 1Sport and Physical Activity Studies Centre (CEEAF), University of Vic – Central University of Catalonia (UVic-UCC), Vic, Spain
  2. 2Sportclínic. Physiotherapy and Sports Training Centre, Girona, Spain
  3. 3School of Health and Sport Sciences (EUSES), Universitat de Girona, Salt, Spain
  4. 4Department of Medical Sciences, Universitat de Girona, Girona, Spain
  5. 5Department of Sports Sciences, Ramon Llull University, FPCEE and FCS Blanquerna, Barcelona, Spain
  6. 6Sport Performance Analysis Research Group, University of Vic, Vic, Spain
  7. 7Medical Department, Futbol Club Barcelona, Barça Innovation Hub, Barcelona, Spain
  8. 8Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Research – Copenhagen (PMR-C), Department of Physical and Occupational Therapy, Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Clinical Research Center, Amager-Hvidovre Hospital, Copenhagen University, Hvidovre, Denmark
  9. 9Sports Orthopedic Research Center – Copenhagen (SORC-C), Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark
  10. 10School of Behavioural and Health Sciences, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia
  11. 11Faculty of Health, School of Exercise and Nutrition Science, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
  12. 12Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia


Background Low eccentric hamstring strength and sprinting performance are associated with hamstring injury (HI) in football; however, the off-season effects on both qualities are unknown.

Objective The aim of the study was to investigate eccentric hamstring strength and sprinting performance changes during the off-season period in football players.

Design Prospective cohort study.

Setting Semi-professional (3rd-4thtier) and amateur (5th-8th tier) Spanish footballers.

Patients (or Participants) Male footballers (n=107) were contacted to participate. Seventy-four footballers (25±4 years, 178.0±6.6 cm, 74.9±8.1 kg) were included in final analyses.

Interventions (or Assessment of Risk Factors) Eccentric hamstring strength (Nordbord) and sprint performance (30m sprint and V-Cut test) were assessed at the beginning (May-June 2017) and end of the off-season (July-August 2017). Previous HI, age and off-season length were considered the independent variables.

Main Outcome Measurements Eccentric hamstring strength (N; N·kg-1), 30m sprint (5–10m splits (s)) and change-of-direction performance (s). All outcomes were proposed before any data collection. Data was analysed using paired t-tests and linear mixed models.

Results No changes in eccentric hamstring strength were found at follow-up. Large (2%, d=0.96; p<0.001) and small (1%, d=0.46; p<0.001) decrements in performance were found for 30m sprint and 10m split time at follow-up, respectively. Previous HI, age or off-season length had no effect on any of the outcomes.

Conclusions Footballers showed no reduction in eccentric hamstring strength but impaired sprint performance after the off-season period, independent of age, previous HI and length of off-season. This may suggest the risk of sustaining a HI during the pre-season is lowered, as a result of decreased maximal sprinting capacity. This implicates that introducing eccentric hamstring strengthening during pre/early season seems relevant as this may both increase sprinting performance and mitigate the risk of HI during the in-season.

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