In the literature at present only 7 prevention studies of soccer injuries have been conducted. Ekstrand et al.(1983) studied the efficacy of an injury prevention programme in male senior amateur players and found a significant reduction of among other things the total number of ankle injuries, the number of ankle and knee sprains and absence from practice and games in the experimental group in comparison with the control group. Tropp et al.(1985) found that the players using ankle orthosis or the group that followed a proprioceptive programme had significantly less ankle sprains than the controls. Surve et al. (1994) showed a reduction of the number of ankle injuries using ankle orthosis. Caraffa et al. (1996) found that the number of torned anterior cruciate ligaments among football players was reduced by 70% after preventive proprioceptive training. In a study of female high school students by Heidt et al. (2000), seven weeks of preseason conditioning significantly reduced the total number of injuries. Whereas Søderman et al. (2000) found that no significant effect was observed on the rate of lower extremity injuries in female players after the introduction of a program with 10-15 minutes of daily balance board training. Junge et al. (2002), in a study of male youth amateur players, found that significantly fewer injuries occurred in the intervention group who had participated in a prevention program.
Previous injury is the most dominating risk factor for injuries in soccer (Arnason et al. Am J Sports Med, In press, 2003, Tropp et al. 1985). Ankle and knee sprains and hamstring and groin strains are the 4 most dominating injuries and stand for more than 50% of all soccer injuries (Arnason et al. Am J Sports Med, In press, 2003).
The aim of this intervention study is to reduce the number of soccer injuries through specific pre-season training of previously injured players.
We will randomize into two groups of 300 players each. One group will work as a control group, while, in the intervention group, all players with a history of previous injury in ankle, knee, groin or hamstring will receive a special training program and the equipment needed during 10 weeks in the pre-season and maintenance throughout the season. Screening of previous injuries will be done by using simple self assessment (questionnaire) and advanced assessment (clinical examination, physical testing). All injuries during the season 2004 will be registered. Approximately 600 players from the Norwegian 2.division will participate. We believe this study could be of great importance on preventing the most common soccer injuries.