Background: The incidence rate of muscle injuries and re-injuries in professional elite soccer players actually is very high and may interfere with the fate of a championship.
Purpose: To investigate the effect of a two-tiered injury prevention programme on first injury and re-injury incidence in top level male soccer players. Study design.
Case series study: Muscle injuries and re-injuries sustained by a group of 36 soccer player of an italian elite soccer team have been collected during 2010-2011 season. These data have been compared with those collected during the previous season in the same elite soccer team.
Results: A total of 64 injuries occurred, 36 (56%) of which during practice and 28 (44%) during matches. Muscle injuries accounted for 31.3% of the total (n=20), 70% (n=14) of which occurred during practice and 30% (n=6) during matches. Hamstring were the muscles most often injured (n=11) In all, 3 re-injuries occurred (15% of muscle injuries). No early re-injuries occurred. The incidence was 2.5 injuries/1000 hours and the burden was 37 days absence/1000 hours.
Conclusions: Through the implementation of a group and personalized injury prevention program, we were able to reduce the total number of muscle injuries and days absent because of injury, in a team of elite soccer players, as compared to the previous season. Specifically, muscle injuries accounted for 31% of all injuries, as compared to 59% of all injuries sustained by the team during the previous season. The number of injuries/1000 hours of exposure was reduced by half (from 5.6 to 2.5) and the days absent/1000 hours fell from 106 to 37.
Keywords: football; muscle injuries; prevention.