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Can the neuromuscular and balance training on unstable and small surfaces decrease the lower limb functional asymmetry in the young soccer players?
Authors: Sannicandro Italo, D’Onofrio Rosario, Lupelli Nicolangelo, Cofano Giacomo
Number of views: 18
Introduction. The literature in recent years has showed the requirement to analyse the differences in performance between the two lower limbs. The lower limbs functional asymmetries are determined by strength deficits between the two limbs and differ from muscular imbalances, which represent an alteration in the strength relationship between agonist and antagonistic muscle pairs. This asymmetry seems to significantly affect performance but above all it seems to represent an injury risk factor.
Aim of the study. The purpose of the study is to analyse and understand the lower limb asymmetry values in the young soccer players. The study also verify whether neuromuscular training on unstable and small surfaces provides an effective plan able to reduce functional asymmetries and allows the strength performance increase.
Materials and methods. 35 young male soccer players (all movement players) from youth national team in the 2020/21 season (14.46 ± 0.28 years, weight: 49.16± 4.92 kg; height: 162.5± 7.2 cm, age training: 7,9 ± 1,1 years) have been randomly divided into Experimental Group, EG (n=17) and Control Group, CG (n=20). The EG completed a total of 16 training sessions directed at balance and neuromuscular training on unstable or small surfaces: two 30-minute sessions/week over a 8-week period. The CG followed an identical training schedule, but training sessions consisted of soccer-specific drills only. The performances were assessed in the One-Leg Hop test, Side-Hop test, Triple-Hop test and Crossover-Hop test to quantify percent asymmetries in lower-limb strength before (T0) and following (T1) training. Results. The data analysis returns the highlights significant intergroup results (T0 vs T1): the One-Leg Hop test left limb (p = .05, d = -2,67), the One-Leg Hop test asymmetry score (%, p = .0005, d = 10.77), the Side-Hop test asymmetry score (%, p = .0005, d = 4.25), the Triple-Hop test right limb ( p = .0005, d = -6.40), the Triple-Hop test left limb ( p = .0005, d = -7.32), the Triple-Hop test asymmetry score (%, p = .0005, d = 6,96), the Crossover-Hop test left limb (p = .05, d = -2.04), the Crossover-Hop test asymmetry score (%, p = .0005, d = -4.12).
Conclusions. The neuromuscular and balance training on small and unstable surfacess seem to respond effectively to two needs of the young soccer player: the injury prevention, by reducing the strength asymmetry values, and increasing the lower limb explosive strength values.