This study aimed to examine the effects of a neuromuscular training program combining eccentric hamstring muscle strength, plyometrics, and free/resisted sprinting exercises on knee extensor/flexor muscle strength, sprinting performance, and horizontal mechanical properties of sprint running in football (soccer) players. Sixty footballers were assigned at random to an experimental group (EG) or a control group (CG). Twenty-seven players completed the EG and 24 players the CG. Both groups performed regular football training while the EG performed also a neuromuscular training during a 7-week period. The EG showed a small increases in concentric quadriceps strength (ES = 0.38/0.58), a moderate to large increase in concentric (ES = 0.70/0.74) and eccentric (ES = 0.66/0.87) hamstring strength, and a small improvement in 5-m sprint performance (ES = 0.32). By contrast, the CG presented lower magnitude changes in quadriceps (ES = 0.04/0.29) and hamstring (ES = 0.27/0.34) concentric muscle strength and no changes in hamstring eccentric muscle strength (ES = -0.02/0.11). Thus, in contrast to the CG (ES = -0.27/0.14), the EG showed a nearly definite increase in the hamstring/quadriceps strength functional ratio (ES = 0.32/0.75). Moreover, the CG showed small magnitude impairments in sprinting performance (ES = -0.35/-0.11). Horizontal mechanical properties of sprint running remained typically unchanged in both groups. These results suggest that a neuromuscular training program can produce positive hamstring strength and maintain sprinting performance, which might help in preventing hamstring strains in football players.
Knee Assessment and Hip Mechanics
Learn how how faulty hip and pelvis mechanics influence knee function under load with this short online course.