02 January 2019
Tendon overuse injuries are an issue in elite footballers (soccer players) and may affect tendon function. Achilles and patellar tendinopathy are the most frequent pathologies. Tendon stiffness, the relationship between the force applied to a tendon and the displacement exerted, may help represent tendon function. Stiffness is affected by training and pathology. Nevertheless, information regarding this mechanical property is lacking for elite soccer athletes.
Achilles and patellar tendon stiffness assessed using myotonometric measurements will be greater in elite soccer athletes than in control participants.
Forty-nine elite soccer athletes and 49 control participants were evaluated during the 2017 preseason. A handheld device was used to measure Achilles and patellar tendon stiffness. Dominant and nondominant limbs were assessed for both groups.
A significantly stiffer patellar tendon was found for both the dominant and the nondominant limb in the elite soccer athletes compared with the control group. Nevertheless, no differences were found in Achilles tendon stiffness between groups. When comparing between playing positions in soccer athletes, no significant differences were found for both tendons.
Greater patellar tendon stiffness may be related to an improvement in force transmission during muscle contraction. On the other hand, it seems that after years of professional training, Achilles tendon stiffness does not change, conserving the storing-releasing function of elastic energy. The nonsignificant differences between positions may be attributable to the years of homogeneous training that the players underwent.