Medical history and physical findings in football players of different ages and skill levels

Am J Sports Med. 2000;28(5 Suppl):S16-21.


The physical and physiologic demands of football on its participants become more pronounced as the level of competition increases. The aim of this study was to compare the medical history and physical findings in players from different levels of play as well as to analyze the relationship between pathologic findings in the joints of the lower extremities and the medical history. Five hundred eighty-eight football players from eight age and skill levels were investigated. The medical histories of the players were obtained by questionnaire. A physical examination conducted by specially trained physicians incorporated anthropometric and body fat measurements and examination of the spine and the hip, knee, foot, and great toe joints. On average, the players reported 6.6 (SD, 8.8) previous injuries. At the time of the examination, 136 players (24%) still felt the effects of a previous injury. Almost one-quarter of the players (134, 23%) had a pathologic finding in either the right or left knee, and even more players (162, 28%) had a pathologic anterior drawer sign either in the right or left ankle. A correlation was found between the location of the pathologic findings and the preferred leg for playing football. We recommend that further research should address the prevalence of pathologic findings and complaints in football players as well as the secondary structural changes that may occur as the result of playing football.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Ankle Joint / physiology*
  • Anthropometry
  • Athletic Injuries / etiology*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Football / injuries*
  • Humans
  • Knee Joint / physiology*
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking*
  • Physical Examination
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Soccer / injuries*
  • Task Performance and Analysis