It is currently unclear how football participation affects knee-joint muscle balance, which is widely considered a risk factor for hamstrings injury. This study compared the angle-specific functional hamstring-to-quadriceps (H:Q) ratio (hamstrings eccentric torque as a ratio of quadriceps concentric torque at the same knee-joint angle) of football players with recreationally active controls. Ten male footballers and 14 controls performed maximal voluntary isometric and isovelocity concentric and eccentric contractions (60, 240 and 400° s−1) of the knee extensors and flexors. Gaussian fitting to the raw torque values was used to interpolate torque values for knee-joint angles of 100–160° (60° s−1), 105–160° (240° s−1) and 115–145° (400° s−1). The angle-specific functional H:Q ratio was calculated from the knee flexors eccentric and knee extensors concentric torque at the same velocity and angle. No differences were found for the angle-specific functional H:Q ratio between groups, at any velocity. Quadriceps and hamstrings strength relative to body mass of footballers and controls was similar for all velocities, except concentric knee flexor strength at 400° s−1 (footballers +40%; P < 0.01). In previously uninjured football players, there was no intrinsic muscle imbalance and therefore the high rate of hamstring injuries seen in this sport may be due to other risk factors and/or simply regular exposure to a high-risk activity.
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