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Low back pain (LBP) is a common problem in football (soccer) players. The effect of LBP on the trunk and hip muscles in this group is unknown. The relationship between LBP and trunk muscle size and function in football players across the preseason was examined. A secondary aim was to assess hip muscle strength. Twenty-five elite soccer players participated in the study, with assessments conducted on 23 players at both the start and end of the preseason. LBP was assessed with questionnaires and ultrasound imaging was used to assess size and function of trunk muscles at the start and end of preseason. Dynamometry was used to assess hip muscle strength at the start of the preseason. At the start of the preseason, 28% of players reported the presence of LBP and this was associated with reduced size of the multifidus, increased contraction of the transversus abdominis and multifidus muscles. LBP decreased across the preseason, and size of the multifidus muscle improved over the preseason. Ability to contract the abdominal and multifidus muscles did not alter across the preseason. Asymmetry in hip adductor and abductor muscle strength was found between players with and without LBP. Identifying modifiable factors in players with LBP may allow development of more targeted preseason rehabilitation programmes.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

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Journal Article

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