Professional Soccer and Thermography: Association between GPS, skin temperature and wellbeing
Another article has just been published using the ThermoHuman methodology and GPS data. In this case, the IGOID group from the University of Castilla La Mancha, in conjunction with our R&D group, has analyzed the relationships between players’ asymmetries and performance data of a professional soccer team.
Thermography is a quick and non-invasive tool that enables the measurement of body temperature in different body regions. This temperature data allows for objective differentiation between regions and facilitates targeted monitoring evolution for both injury prevention and tracking, and could complement the information from GPS.
The article, published in Nature, analyzed 12 weeks of competition for a professional soccer team during the league season. The data included information from 11 microcycles for all players and the evolution of GPS parameters over time. Additionally, subjective well-being data was collected through wellness questionnaires, and weekly thermography images were taken.
Key Metrics of GPS and Thermography Collected in the Study:
The primary metrics collected during the study included locomotor, mechanical, and metabolic data provided by GPS positioning systems (distance covered, high-intensity distances, accelerations, decelerations, metabolic load, etc.). Data on well-being were also collected using a validated questionnaire designed to monitor athletes’ well-being, which consisted of five items: stress perception, rest perception, muscle soreness perception, perceived effort, and sleep quality.
Additionally, the study analyzed the protocols before and after taking thermographic images using ThermoHuman software, which provided information about asymmetries and average temperatures in different body regions (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Relationship between Wellness, GPS and asymmetries.
The study divided participants into two groups: those with high asymmetries in the analyzed regions (considered to be above 0.3°C) and players with low asymmetries (those with less than 0.3°C difference between contralateral ROIs).
This division revealed that players with high asymmetry in the hamstring complex completed fewer high-intensity actions during the microcycle. According to the authors, this relationship suggested that players with more asymmetries are less predisposed to exertion during the microcycle, which could serve as a preventive measure.
Another result highlighted the Adductor group as one of the regions related to well-being. Rest and sleep quality data were worse when there were more asymmetries in this muscle group, while stress levels were higher with larger asymmetries.
Lastly, asymmetries in the hip flexors and the rectus femoris of the quadriceps increased when more acceleration actions were performed.
In conclusion, high-intensity actions contribute to generating more asymmetries in the thighs. Therefore, elite coaches should consider reducing intensity when players exhibit thermal asymmetries in these regions of interest.
Asymmetries in the adductors are associated with lower recovery values and less pain, while higher asymmetries in the hamstrings make it difficult for players to complete all the high-intensity actions required to compete at a high level.
This underscores the importance of monitoring muscular asymmetry for optimal well-being and performance.
Majano, C., Garcia-Unanue, J., Fernández-Cuevas, I. et al. Association between physical demands, skin temperature and wellbeing status in elite football players. Sci Rep 13, 13780 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-40396-y