Variables associated with neck dysfunction in amateur soccer players

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Walker, Lisa
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Osteopathy
Unitec Institute of Technology
Bacon, Catherine
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
recreational sport
overuse injuries
cervical spine
Walker, L. (2011). Variables associated with neck dysfunction in amateur soccer players. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Osteopathy). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
Background: Heading involves large forces throughout the neck region and is an integral aspect of the game of soccer. Nonetheless, research about neck dysfunction resulting from soccer heading is scarce. Research question: What are the predictors of neck disability and dysfunction in amateur soccer players? Type of study: Descriptive. Methods: Part One, prior to this study, players from a single soccer club took part in a pilot study to assess the within-player and between-coach reliability of a tool for assessing heading skill. Part two, an online survey of players in the Auckland City region included the Neck Disability Index (NDI) and soccer-specific and demographic items, and was distributed to soccer clubs within the Auckland region. A further investigation on a subgroup of 16 participants, randomly selected from the main study, was undertaken to identify variables that might predict clinical assessment of neck dysfunction and establish the importance of heading skill as a predictor of neck dysfunction and disability. Part three, participants in this sub-study were filmed completing 10 headers and underwent active and passive neck examinations. Results: Associations between NDI and demographic and soccer-specific variables were trivial to small (r = -0.01 to 0.15, all p < 0.05). Similarly, associations between examined neck dysfunction and soccer-specific variables were small to moderate (r = 2.0 to 3.8, p = 0.001) except for a large effect observed for a greater level of neck dysfunction identified during active examination in players who engaged in the least compared to the most heading practice (r = 2.0 to 3.8, p = 0.05). Conclusions: Overall, no variables relating to heading or participation in amateur soccer appear to be associated with neck disability. Regular heading practice may prevent less severe forms of dysfunction and so incorporating additional heading practice within soccer training may be beneficial.
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