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Research project: Movement dysfunction in footballers with hip and groin pain

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This project is funded by Arthritis Research UK and the National Institutes for Health Research. The overall aim is to investigate the mechanisms of movement dysfunction in young footballers with hip and groin pain, in preparation for studies to develop and evaluate exercise interventions to manage and prevent the problem.

Abnormal hip shape is common in professional footballers and can give rise to ‘femoroacetabular impingement’ (FAI), which can cause groin pain and increases the risk of osteoarthritis. We do not know how to predict who will develop hip problems, or know when or why this hip shape develops but it is likely to take place during adolescence when the growing portion of bone is susceptible to injury.

We aim to find out more about what causes FAI and what abnormalities in movement are associated with it, to help us find ways of preventing the development of osteoarthritis.

Movement dysfunction is being studied for the first time in academy footballers aged 9-18 years, using clinical and functional tests, and biomechanical and neurophysiological techniques to validate measures and understand mechanisms of dysfunction. This work underpins development of effective exercise programmes to prevent the development of FAI in elite and recreational footballers.

This hip problem is important to consider in recreational as well as professional footballers. As the population is being encouraged to become more active, it is vital that we find ways to exercise safely and prevent overloading joints known to be susceptible to injury and arthritis. Our research involves studying professional academy footballers, as well as local recreational footballers and school children who do not play football at a competitive level, to provide a comparison with normal development in adolescents.


Associated research themes

Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis

Musculoskeletal research within Rehabilitation and Health Technologies Research Group, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Southampton

Southampton Musculoskeletal Research Unit

Related research groups

Active Living and Rehabilitation
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