The influence of soccer playing surface on the loading response to ankle (p)rehabilitation exercises

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Context: Contemporary synthetic playing surfaces have been associated with an increased risk of ankle injury in the various types of football. Triaxial accelerometers facilitate in vivo assessment of planar mechanical loading on the player. Objective: To quantify the influence of playing surface on the PlayerLoad elicited during footwork and plyometric drills focussed on the mechanism of ankle injury. Design: Repeated measures, field-based.
Setting: Regulation soccer pitches. Participants: 15 amateur soccer players (22.1 ± 2.4 yrs), injury free with ≥ 6 yrs competitive experience. Interventions: Each player completed a test battery comprising three footwork drills (anterior, lateral, diagonal) and four plyometric drills (anterior hop, inversion hop, eversion hop, diagonal hop) on natural turf (NT), third generation artificial turf (3G) and astroturf (AT). GPS sensors were located at
C7 and the mid-tibia of each leg to measure triaxial acceleration (100Hz). Main Outcome Measures: PlayerLoad in each axial plane was calculated for each drill on each surface, and at each GPS location. Results: ANOVA revealed a significant main effect for sensor location in all drills, with PlayerLoad higher at mid-tibia than at C7 in all movement planes. AT elicited significantly higher PlayerLoad in the mediolateral and anteroposterior planes, with typically no difference between NT and 3G. In isolated inversion and eversion hopping trials the 3G surface also elicited lower PlayerLoad than NT. Conclusions: PlayerLoad magnitude was sensitive to unit placement, advocating measurement with greater anatomical relevance when using MEMS technology to monitor training or rehabilitation load. Astroturf elicited higher PlayerLoad across all planes and drills and should be avoided for rehabilitative purposes, whereas 3G elicited a similar mechanical response to NT.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sport Rehabilitation
Early online date5 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Feb 2020


  • PlayerLoad
  • Soccer
  • injury
  • playing surfaces


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