Athletes' cardiac screening is challenging. The distinction between abnormal and normal is further hindered by the fact that cardiac adaptations differ between endurance and power athletes. Soccer performance depends on both cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems. Most of the studies are focused on cardiac and aerobic adaptations related to left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH), but there is lack of studies examining musculoskeletal and anaerobic adaptations that elicit cardiac remodeling. The aim of this study was to examine whether the anaerobic jumping performance, as evaluated by vertical jump parameters achieved at a repetitive jump test (RVJ), was related to the left ventricular mass index (LVMI) in Greek soccer players.
Elite male professional players (N = 19, age = 25.7 ± 4.6 yrs) participated in this study as part of their annual physical and physiological performance screening. The participants performed a RVJ test consisted of 15 continuous maximal effort countermovement jumps. Echocardiography measurements of left ventricular mass (LVM) and body surface area (BSA) were used to calculate the LVMI as LVM/BSA in g/m2. LVMI value of 115 g/m2 is considered to be a cut-off value for LVH and two groups were additionally formed: group A with LVMI ≥ 115 g/m2 (n = 11) and group B with LVMI < 115 g/m2 (n = 8). Independent samples T-test was used to examine the maximum jump height (JHmax) difference between the groups. Pearson's correlation analysis was run to check the relationship between LVMI raw values and JHmax. Statistical analysis was performed using the R-based Jamovi software (version: 184.108.40.206), with the level of significance set at a = 0.05.
LVMI raw values were 143.14 ± 18.06 g/m2 and 108.22 ± 9.66 g/m2 in groups A and B, respectively. Group A had significantly lower JHmax compared to Group B (0.29 ± 0.04 m vs 0.35 ± 0.04 m, respectively; t17 =−3.39, p = 0.003, Hedges' g = 1.43: large effect size). In the total sample, LVMI raw values correlated significantly with JHmax (r = −0.53, p = 0.020).
Soccer players with LVMI ≥ 115 g/m2 values had lower RVJ performance compared to those with LVMI < 115 g/m2. Resistance training, which is common in soccer, leads to cardiac anatomic adaptations such as LVH. The utility of the RVJ performance as a prognostic component for cardiac remodeling is weak. Even though soccer is a mixed type sport, aerobic adaptations are still the key prognostic elements for LVH.
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