According to a new study from the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center published in the January Supplement of the American Journal of Sports Medicine, increased age and previous injuries were found to be the main risk factors for injuries in elite male football players.
|Increased age and previous injury is the main risk factor for new injuries. |
To increase the knowledge of risk factors for injuries in football, the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center in cooperation with Department of Physiology at University of Iceland conducted a study on risk factors for injuries in the two highest male football divisions in Iceland. 17 teams participated, with a total of 306 players. Just before the start of the football season, players were tested with respect to maximal O2 uptake, body composition, leg extension power, maximal jump height, flexibility, and mechanical stability in ankle and knee. During the season, team physical therapists registered injuries. Match exposure were found from official records, while coaches registered training attendance by the players.
The most common injury type was hamstring strains, followed by groin strains, ankle sprains and knee sprains. Increased age was identified as risk factor for injuries in general and for hamstring strains specifically. Players that previously had incurred hamstring strains had a 7-8 fold higher risk of incurring new hamstring strain during one season than players without such history, while players with a history of groin strains had a 5-6 fold higher risk of incurring new groin strain compared to players without a history of previous groin strains. Players with a history of previous ankle and knee sprains were at 4-6 times higher risk of incurring new ankle and knee sprains than players without such history. In addition, decreased flexibility in the adductor muscles of the hip was found to be a risk factor for groin strains.
The results indicate that more focus needs to be put on rehabilitation of injuries. Although the teams participating in this study perform on a high level, the financial standing of the clubs currently limits their ability to establish an optimal medical support team. The team physical therapists are rarely present during training sessions and therefore follow-up of injury rehabilitation can be difficult. This could results in too early return to training at high intensity after injuries, a factor that could increase the risk of recurrent injuries.
The primary investigator of this study was physical therapist and PhD student Árni Árnason, in cooperation with professor Stefán B Sigurðsson, Árni Guðmundsson, professor Ingar Holme, professor Lars Engebretsen and professor Roald Bahr.
Read the article here.