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Decoding Muscle Imbalances in Elite Football Players: Insights from EMG Analysis




In the dynamic realm of football, the physical demands on players have surged, transforming the game into a spectacle of speed and agility. Sprinting, a fundamental aspect of football, has taken center stage, with players engaging in a multitude of short, high-intensity sprints during a single match. Utilizing electromyography (EMG) in field training and games, delves into the intricacies of muscle activity during sprinting among elite football players, unveiling the objective and potential asymmetries in lower limb muscle engagement.


Sixteen professional football players, with an average age of 23,7 years, were enlisted for the study made in Poland. The primary objective was to explore side-to-side muscle activity asymmetry during 30-meter sprints. EMG recordings were meticulously obtained with Myontec Mbody smart shorts from the quadriceps, hamstrings, and gluteal muscles.


This study was the utilization of textile electrodes embedded in clothing, Myontec Mbody, offering a practical and less restrictive method for EMG analysis.

Results

The meticulous analysis uncovered significant side-to-side muscle activity asymmetry, with the most pronounced disparities found in the glute muscles (17.5%) and hamstrings (9.8%). The hamstring/quadriceps ratios during sprints exhibited variability, underscoring the importance of assessing the delicate balance between these muscle groups in elite football players.


Imbalances exceeding 15% were identified as potential precursors to increased knee injury risks.

The findings suggest that football players may manifest uneven development between their right and left limbs due to specific technical actions inherent in the sport. Importantly, imbalances exceeding 15% were identified as potential precursors to increased knee injury risks. The study emphasizes the crucial nature of evaluating internal movement structures using EMG analysis in real competitive conditions, uncovering potential muscle imbalances that may be overlooked in traditional assessments.


Implications and Recommendations

Study propounds practical recommendations for addressing muscle imbalances in elite football players. Incorporating unilateral strength training exercises, such as split squats and single-leg deadlifts, is suggested to rectify bilateral muscle imbalances. The dominance of one side over the other can lead to variations in muscle strength, influencing performance and elevating injury risks. Coaches and strength trainers are urged to focus on selectively activating hamstring and glute muscles during resistance training, offering a targeted approach to enhance sprint performance and mitigate injury risks.


Focus on selectively activating hamstring and glute muscles during resistance training.


Conclusion

In summary, this research injects fresh perspectives into the ongoing discourse on muscle imbalances in elite football players. The pragmatic use of EMG analysis in a competitive setting underscores the significance of addressing asymmetries in glute and hamstring muscles through targeted training interventions. These insights extend beyond injury prevention, offering a promising route to enhance the sprinting performance of elite football athletes. As the game continues to evolve, understanding and rectifying these nuanced muscle imbalances stand as crucial steps towards optimizing player performance and well-being in the fiercely competitive world of football.


The pragmatic use of EMG analysis in a competitive setting underscores the significance of addressing asymmetries in glute and hamstring muscles through targeted training interventions.

Based on the study:

Muscle Activity Asymmetry of The Lower Limbs During Sprinting in Elite Soccer Players by

Przemysław Pietraszewski, Artur Gołaś, Aleksander Matusiński, Sylwia Mrzygłód, Aleksandra Mostowik, and Adam Maszczyk. Published October 2020 in Journal of Human Kinetics.

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