Evaluation of functional limitations in female soccer players and their relationship with sports level

The authors conducted this study with the purpose of analyzing: a) abnormalities in the length of lower limb muscles, b) the correctness of movement patterns, and c) the impact of functional limitations of muscles on the correctness of fundamental movement patterns in a group of female soccer players, in relation to their skill level. 21 female soccer players from Polish Ekstraklasa and 22 players from the 1(st) Division were tested for lower limb muscle length restrictions and level of fundamental movement skills (with the Fundamental Movement Screen™ test concept by Gray Cook). Chi-square test was used for categorical unrelated variables. Differences between groups in absolute point values were analyzed using the non-parametric Mann-Whitney U test. They set statistical significance at p<0.05. Statistically significant higher number of measurements indicating an abnormal length of rectus femoris was observed in the 1st Division group (p = 0.0433). In the group of Ekstraklasa the authors obtained a significantly higher number of abnormal hamstring test results (p = 0.0006). Ekstraklasa players scored higher in the rotational stability test of the trunk (p = 0.0008), whereas the 1st Division players scored higher in the following tests: deep squat (p = 0.0220), in-line lunge (p = 0.0042) and active straight leg raise (p = 0.0125). Their results suggest that there are different functional reasons affecting point values obtained in the FMS™ tests in both analyzed groups.

The authors concluded that the variations in the flexibility of rectus femoris and hamstring muscle observed between female soccer players with different levels of training, may result from a long-term impact of soccer training on the muscle-tendon system and articular structures. They added that different causes of abnormalities in fundamental movement patterns in both the groups they examined suggest the need for customising prevention programs to the level of sport skills represented by the players.