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Muscles Ligaments Tendons J. 2018 Jan 10;7(3):435-441. doi: 10.11138/mltj/2017.7.3.435. eCollection 2017 Jul-Sep.

The time has come to incorporate a greater focus on rate of force development training in the sports injury rehabilitation process.

Author information

Isokinetic Medical Group, FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence, Education & Research Department, Bologna, Italy.
Isokinetic Medical Group, FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence, London, UK.
Southampton Football Club, Southampton, UK.
Department of Neuroscience, Biomedicine and Movement, University of Verona, Italy.


This narrative and literature review discusses the relevance of Rate of Force Development (RFD) (the slope of the force time curve) for Return To Sport (RTS), its determinants and the influence of training practices on it expression, with the purpose to enhance clinicians' awareness of how RFD training may enhance RTS success. RFD is considered functionally more relevant than maximal muscle strength during certain very fast actions including rapid joint stabilisation following mechanical perturbation. Deficits in RFD are reported following conventional rehabilitation programmes despite full restoration of maximal strength, which may contribute to the less than satisfactory RTS outcomes reported in the literature. RFD determinants vary as a function of time from force onset with a diminishing role of maximal strength as the time available for force development decreases. Factors such as neural activation, fibre type composition and muscle contractile properties influence RFD also and to a much greater extent during the early periods of rapid force development. Conventional resistance training using moderate loads typical of most rehabilitation programmes is insufficient at restoring or enhancing RFD, thus incorporating periodised resistance training programmes and explosive training techniques in the final stages of rehabilitation prior to RTS is recommended.

Level of evidence:



explosive strength; injury prevention; maximal isometric voluntary strength; neural activation; rehabilitation

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