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In July, the heads of the Health Department of the Barça Innovation Hub -the sports innovation laboratory that contributes to improving the performance of the club's athletes- presented to FIFA their first conclusions from a scientific study carried out with the professional FC Barcelona Women players. The study consisted of examining different medical and physical parameters for the footballers, as well as their responses to training and competition. The main objective of the study was to determine the impact that sport has on the bodies of athletes and, based on the conclusions obtained, be able to optimise sporting performance and prevent the risk of injury to footballers in general.
FIFA funded the project with the wish to deepen medical knowledge of women's football, and FC Barcelona were the club chosen to carry out the research -taking into account their history and previous experience in health studies and sports medicine through the Barça Innovation Hub. Since 2017, Barça have launched 31 research projects in the field of sports medicine, involving different professional sports.
For this study, testing began in July 2018 and involved 30 professional players. During the two years of research, different physiological, anthropometric, nutritional and psychological profiles for players were defined, requiring the participation of different specialists in areas such as traumatology, nutrition, endocrinology, gynecology, psychology and training theory.
In total, up to 500 variables for each player were analysed. The main aspects included clinical parameters, such as pathological history and injuries, data provided through training and match GPS logs, gynecological, anthropometric, analytical, athletic and psychological performance data -such as mood and fatigue perception.
Among the first results, the study concluded that football players have well-defined profiles and characteristics that are very different from other athletes, especially those who play individual sports. The study also determined the impact of hormone levels and menstrual cycles on adaptation to training and competition, and the possibility of injury. These initial findings allow for the design of preventive measures, consisting of monitoring menstrual cycles and dietary and sleep habits, as well as conducting periodic analytical checks and surveys to determine mood and fatigue perception. The study has not yet been fully completed, and over the next few months the data obtained will continue to be assessed, to design new preventive strategies for optimising physical performance and minimising the risk of injury.
Marta Plana, Head of BIHUB.
"This study with FIFA is a good example of some of the main goals of the BIHUB: On the one hand, working as an innovation laboratory with the aim of improving the performance of our athletes -in this case, women's football. On the other hand, doing so with the help of international institutions and bodies that identify Barça as the ideal partner to carry out different research and innovation projects. Now the goal is to continue working in this field and expand new lines of research, to prevent injuries and continue to improve the health and performance of our players."
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