The Influence of Soccer Playing Surface on the Loading Response to Ankle (P)Rehabilitation Exercises

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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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 focused on the mechanism of ankle injury. Design: Repeated-measures, field-based design. Setting: Regulation soccer pitches. Participants: A total of 15 amateur soccer players (22.1 [2.4] y), injury free with ≥6 years competitive experience. Interventions: Each player completed a test battery comprising 3 footwork drills (anterior, lateral, and diagonal) and 4 plyometric drills (anterior hop, inversion hop, eversion hop, and diagonal hop) on natural turf (NT), third-generation artificial turf (3G), and AstroTurf. Global positioning system sensors were located at C7 and the mid-tibia of each leg to measure triaxial acceleration (100 Hz). Main Outcome Measures: PlayerLoad in each axial plane was calculated for each drill on each surface and at each global positioning system location. Results: Analysis of variance revealed a significant main effect for sensor location in all drills, with PlayerLoad higher at mid-tibia than at C7 in all movement planes. AstroTurf 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 microelectromechanical systems 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.

The authors are with the Sports Injuries Research Group, Department of Sport & Physical Activity, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, United Kingdom.

Greig (matt.greig@edgehill.ac.uk) is corresponding author.
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