Neuromuscular exercises prevent severe knee injury in adolescent team handball players

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2018 Jul;26(7):1901-1908. doi: 10.1007/s00167-017-4758-5. Epub 2017 Oct 20.


Purpose: Team handball is associated with a high risk of severe knee injury that needs to be reduced, particularly at the youth level. The purpose of this study was to show how an injury-prevention programme effectively reduces severe knee injury in adolescent team handball players.

Methods: Of 23 adolescent handball teams of both sexes, 13 were randomly allocated into the intervention group (168 players) and 10 into the control group (111 players). Players of the intervention group regularly participated in an injury-prevention programme for one season. Handball exposure and sustained injuries were documented for both groups on a monthly basis. The primary outcome parameter of the injury-prevention programme was the incidence of severe knee injury.

Results: Of the 279 included players, 68 (24%) sustained 82 injuries yielding an overall incidence of 1.85 injuries per 1000 h handball exposure (intervention group: 50 injuries/incidence: 1.90/1000 h; control group: 32 injuries/incidence: 1.78/1000 h). Knee injury was the second most frequent injury in adolescent team handball. The primary outcome parameter, severe knee injury occurred significantly more often in the control group [mean age (SD) 15.1 (1.0), injury incidence 0.33/1000 h] than in the intervention group [mean age (SD) 14.9 (0.9), injury incidence 0.04/1000 h]. The odds ratio was 0.11 (95% CI 0.01-0.90), p = 0.019. Other injuries to the lower extremities showed no significant difference between the two groups.

Conclusions: Frequent neuromuscular exercises prevent severe knee injury in adolescent team handball players and should thus be included in the practical routine as well as in the education of team coaches.

Keywords: Adolescent; Anterior cruciate ligament; Handball; Injury; Knee; Prevention; Team handball.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Exercise Therapy
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Knee Injuries / epidemiology
  • Knee Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Lower Extremity
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sports