Measuring biomechanical loads in team sports – from lab to field

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The benefits of differentiating between the physiological and biomechanical load-response pathways in football and other (team) sports have become increasingly recognised. In contrast to physiological loads however, the biomechanical demands of training and competition are still not well understood, primarily due to the difficulty of quantifying biomechanical loads in a field environment. Although musculoskeletal adaptation and injury are known to occur at a tissue level, several biomechanical load metrics are available that quantify loads experienced by the body as a whole, its different structures and the individual tissues that are part of these structures. This paper discusses the distinct aspects and challenges that are associated with measuring biomechanical loads at these different levels in laboratory and/ or field contexts. Our hope is that through this paper, sport scientists and practitioners will be able to critically consider the value and limitations of biomechanical load metrics and will keep pursuing new methods to measure these loads within and outside the lab, as a detailed load quantification is essential to better understand the biomechanical load-response pathways that occur in the field.

Science and Medicine in Football