Effects of Omega-3 supplementation on exercise performance and ACL injury reduction in football players

  • Sydney Leisz

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


The demands of a football match require both female and male athletes to sustain high-intensity exercises over prolonged periods of time. Fatigue is one factor which can have deleterious effects on performance and can also increase the risk of musculoskeletal injuries, such as anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ruptures. ACL ruptures are more common in females than in males; however, the high volume of sudden decelerations, changes in directions, and landing tasks in football increase the risk of sustaining an ACL rupture irrespective of sex. Omega-3 supplementation has been found to improve maximal and submaximal performance as well as have positive impacts on neuromuscular activation patterns which could reduce the risk of ACL ruptures. This inter-disciplinary approach aimed to investigate the role of an 8-week Omega-3 supplementation (2.25g EPA, 0.15g DHA, and 0.8g filler oil daily) on VO2peak, repeated sprint ability, submaximal running performance, lactate kinetics, functional fitness measures, neuromuscular efficiency of the hamstrings and quadriceps, and the role of fatigue on risk factors associated with ACL injury risk in football players. Reliability studies were carried out with the aim of identifying the reliability of the researcher’s Vicon and sEMG marker placement over three testing sessions. Finally, due to the inconsistent reporting of sEMG filtering, smoothing and data extraction points adopted in ACL research, the scoping review aims to identify a common well reputable ROI of which sEMG data is extracted, as well as appropriate filtering and smoothing parameters to accurately assess neuromuscular activation patterns during dynamic high-risk movements for ACL injuries. Reliability studies indicate where fastidious attention is needed to insure accurate interpretation of 3D and sEMG variables. Findings from the scoping review highlighted the most common ROI was 50ms before initial contact and the most common means for data analysis was applying a bandpass high and low pass cut off frequency (16Hz - 439Hz) with subsequent root mean squared smoothing with an average of 33ms. These filtering and smoothing parameters were then implemented in the subsequent experimental study chapters. In these experimental studies, 17 females (omega-3 n = 10, placebo n = 7) and 8 males (omega-3 n = 5, placebo n = 3) were allocated to the experimental or placebo group based on VO2peak, daily intake of omega-3, and for females, the use of contraception. Results of these studies, although not statistically significant, indicate a trend to tentatively suggest this dosage and duration of omega-3 supplementation could elicit subtle adaptations in repeated sprint ability (female: peak minimum power d = 0, 95% CI: 0.966, -0.966; maximum peak power: d = 0.168, 95% CI: 1.050, -0.885), lactate kinetics (Males: amplitude of increase: Change in mean 0.908 mmol l-1; 95% CI: 3.453, -1.637), rate of increase: Change in mean 0.212 min-1; 95% CI:1.182, -0.759), hamstring isometric strength (male: Dominant: Change in mean 2.84 kg; 95% CI 6.073, -0.387; Non-Dominant Change in mean 2.27 kg; 95% CI: 5.019, -0.473), and biceps femoris (BF) activation (females: non-dominant BF activation during cutting manoeuvre ηp2 = 0.156, 90% CI: 0.186, 0.000; male: non-dominant biceps femoris activation 100ms before initial contact: Change in mean 15.390%; 95% CI: 53.516, -22.737 and 50ms before initial contact: Change in mean 17.185%; 95% CI: 42.982, -8.613during and drop vertical jump ηp2 = 0.138; 90% CI: 0.180, 0.000) associated with ACL ruptures in football players. However, supplementation alone does not elicit strong or definitive adaptations in aerobic capacity, oxidative metabolism, or kinematics and therefore, cannot be recommended that as the sole variable in reducing risk of ACL injury or improving exercise performance.
Date of AwardJan 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Abertay University
SupervisorAshley Williams (Supervisor), John Babraj (Supervisor) & Graeme Sorbie (Supervisor)


  • Anterior cruciate ligament
  • Omega-3
  • Exercise performance
  • Football players
  • Injury prevention
  • Surface electromyography

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