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Research project: Warm up exercise programmes in youth football to improve movement quality

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Football is very popular, with over 265 million players worldwide. Physical activity is important for good health and warming up before activity can prevent injuries so that the activity is performed safely. Use of warm-up programmes is limited and injuries can lead to problems in the long-term, such as osteoarthritis. This study aims to examine how warm-up exercise programmes can prevent injuries and improve performance.

Legs and the dynmaics of them

Injuries can be caused by acute trauma or can occur over a period of time due to overuse or to abnormal loading of joints causing microtrauma.

Hip and groin pain are common in young footballers and hip osteoarthritis is common in retired professional footballers, who have more hip replacement surgery than the general population. A condition of the hip, known as Femoroacetabular Impingement (FAI), changes the structure of the hip in younger people is known to lead to osteoarthritis. It has been suggested that people with FAI (with or without pain) have abnormal movement.

Warm-up exercise programmes can help prevent abnormal movements from developing and can also reduce injuries. There is some evidence that improving the way people move and control their joints, i.e. the quality of how they move, injuries can be reduced.

Performance is obviously important to footballers and this can also be affected by their movement quality.

Ways of measuring movement quality are needed to develop and study the effect of exercise programmes to improve it. The Hip and Lower limb Movement Screen (Booysen et al 2019), which was developed at the University of Southampton, is being used in our studies to develop warm-up exercises to improve movement quality specifically to protect the hips and lower limb joints.

Several studies are in progress looking into different aspects of this research, including:

  • Warm-up exercises in young footballers
  • Movement quality in women’s football
  • Effect of warm-up exercises on performance
  • Adherence to warm-up programmes as part of routine training and matches in the long-term

This project forms part of International Movement Screening and Interventions Group (IMSIG)

A systematic review by the IMSIG found that movement screening tools are not always predictive of injury (Whittaker et al 2018).

Presentations at international conferences have been made by the Group on movement quality in young footballers (Booysen et al 2017) and military personnel (Fallowfield et al 2020).

Studies have used the Hip and Lower Limb Movement Screen to assess movement quality in young footballers, including Booysen et al 2019; Linek et al 2019; Wilson et al 2018.

Associated research themes

Active Living Theme

Related research groups

Active Living and Rehabilitation

Conferences and events associated with this project:

Booysen N, Warner M, Gimpel M, Comerford M, Mottram M, Stokes M. Movement Screening in Young Academy Footballers: Altered Movement Patterns Compared to the Benchmark (Poster). World Confederation for Physical Therapy 2 – 4th July 2017, Cape Town, South Africa.

Fallowfield JL (Presenting Author), Booysen N.C.L., Power C., Nelstrop A., Gibbs J., Coppack R., Warner M., Stokes M.. Assessing and Improving Movement Quality in UK Military Personnel – Can a Better Understanding of the Problem Inform a Simple Solution? (ABS139) 5th International Congress on Soldiers' Physical Performance (ICSPP), Quebec, Canada, 11-14 February 2020

Key Publications

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