Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
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©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine ( 2019 ) 18 , 729 - 737

Research article
Effects of a 6-Week Strength Training of the Neck Flexors and Extensors on the Head Acceleration during Headers in Soccer
Stephan Becker1, , Joshua Berger1, Marco Backfisch1, Oliver Ludwig1, Jens Kelm2, Michael Fröhlich1
Author Information
1 Department of Sport Science, Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern, Germany
2 Medical Faculty, Saarland University, Homburg/Saar, Germany

Stephan Becker
✉ Department of Sport Science, Technische Universität Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern, 67663, Germany
Email: stephan.becker@sowi.uni-kl.de
Publish Date
Received: 22-05-2019
Accepted: 28-08-2019
Published (online): 01-12-2019
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ABSTRACT

The importance of well trained and stable neck flexors and extensors as well as trunk muscles for intentional headers in soccer is increasingly discussed. The neck flexors and extensors should ensure a coupling of trunk and head at the time of ball contact to increase the physical mass hitting the ball and reduce head acceleration. The aim of the study was to analyze the influence of a 6-week strength training program (neck flexors, neck extensors) on the acceleration of the head during standing, jumping and running headers as well as after fatigue of the trunk muscles on a pendulum header. A total of 33 active male soccer players (20.3 ± 3.6 years, 1.81 ± 0.07 m, 75.5 ± 8.3 kg) participated and formed two training intervention groups (IG1: independent adult team, IG2: independent youth team) and one control group (CG: players from different teams). The training intervention consisted of three exercises for the neck flexors and extensors. The training effects were verified by means of the isometric maximum voluntary contraction (IMVC) measured by a telemetric Noraxon DTS force sensor. The head acceleration during ball contact was determined using a telemetric Noraxon DTS 3D accelerometer. There was no significant change of the IMVC over time between the groups (F=2.265, p=.121). Head acceleration was not reduced significantly for standing (IG1 0.4 ± 2.0, IG2 0.1 ± 1.4, CG -0.4 ± 1.2; F = 0.796, p = 0.460), jumping (IG1-0.7 ± 1.4, IG2-0.2 ± 0.9, CG 0.1 ± 1.2; F = 1.272, p = 0.295) and running (IG1-1.0 ± 1.9, IG2-0.2 ± 1.4, CG -0.1 ± 1.6; F = 1.050, p = 0.362) headers as well as after fatigue of the trunk musculature for post-jumping (IG1-0.2 ± 2.1, IG2-0.6 ± 1.4; CG -0.6 ± 1.3; F = 0.184, p = 0.833) and post-running (IG1-0.3 ± 1.6, IG2-0.7 ± 1.2, CG 0.0 ± 1.4; F = 0.695, p = 0.507) headers over time between IG1, IG2 and CG. A 6-week strength training of the neck flexors and neck extensors could not show the presumed preventive benefit. Both the effects of a training intervention and the consequences of an effective intervention for the acceleration of the head while heading seem to be more complex than previously assumed and presumably only come into effect in case of strong impacts.

Key words: Heading, kinetics, head-neck-torso-alignment, neck musculature, repetitive head impacts, concussion


           Key Points
  • Presumed preventive benefit of a 6-week strength training of neck flexors and extensors could not be shown.
  • Changes in force of the neck flexors and extensors do not necessarily predict a change in head acceleration.
  • Pre-post-comparison before and after fatigue of the trunk muscles did not show any statistically noticeable changes in the acceleration of the head.
  • Further investigations with accelerated balls must follow.
 
 
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