The influence of playing surface on the loading response to soccer-specific activity

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Context: The influence of playing surface on injury risk in soccer is contentious, and 6 contemporary technologies permit an in-vivo assessment of mechanical loading on the 7 player. Objective: To quantify the influence of playing surface on the PlayerLoad elicited 8 during soccer-specific activity. Design: Repeated measures, field-based. Setting: 9 Regulation soccer pitches. Participants: 15 amateur soccer players (22.1 ± 2.4 yrs), injury 10 free with ≥ 6 yrs competitive experience. Interventions: Each player completed 11 randomised order trials of a soccer-specific field test on natural turf, astroturf and third 12 generation artificial turf. GPS units were located at C7 and the mid-tibia of each leg to 13 measure triaxial acceleration (100Hz). Main Outcome Measures: Total accumulated 14 PlayerLoad in each movement plane was calculated for each trial. Ratings of perceived 15 exertion (RPE) and visual analogue scales (VAS) assessing lower-limb muscle soreness 16 were measured as markers of fatigue. Results: ANOVA revealed no significant main 17 effect for playing surface on total PlayerLoad (P = 0.55), distance covered (P = 0.75), or 18 post-exercise measures of RPE (P = 0.98) and VAS (P = 0.61). There was a significant 19 main effect for GPS location (P < 0.001), with lower total loading elicited at C7 than mid20 tibia (P < 0.001), but with no difference between limbs (P = 0.70). There was no unit 21 placement x surface interaction (P = 0.98). There was also a significant main effect for 22 GPS location on the relative planar contributions to loading (P < 0.001). Relative planar 23 contributions to loading in the AP:ML:V planes was 25:27:48 at C7 and 34:32:34 at mid24 tibia. Conclusions: PlayerLoad metrics suggest that playing surface does not influence 25 mechanical loading during soccer-specific activity (not including tackling). Clinical 2 26 reasoning should consider that PlayerLoad magnitude and axial contributions were 27 sensitive to unit placement, highlighting opportunities in the objective monitoring of load 28 during rehabilitation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sport Rehabilitation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Dec 2019


  • PlayerLoad
  • Soccer
  • injury
  • playing surfaces

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