This is one of the major findings of the study published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine this month by Ekstrand and colleagues. 52 football teams [best 24 European Clubs (UCL), 15 teams from the Swedish first League and another 15 European teams] were followed during the period 2001-9. The main findings were:
- Muscle injuries constituted 31% of all injuries.
- 92% of all muscle injuries affected the lower extremities; hamstrings (37%), adductors (23%), quadriceps (19%) and calf muscles (13%).
- 16% of the muscle injuries were reinjuries. Rate was lower in the UCL teams (13%) and higher in the Swedish league teams. This was attributed, at least in part, to the greater medical and physio support in UCL teams.
- Reinjuries caused 30% longer absences than first-time injuries (average: 17.8 vs 13.8 days, respectively).
- As in previous studies, muscle injuries tended to occur more frequently in the last quarter of each half.
- The incidence of all muscle injuries increased with age (age groups: 16-21 yrs, 22-30 yrs & >30 yrs).
- The incidence of calf strains during the match increased with age. There was no difference between age groups in the incidence of hamstrings, quadriceps and adductors.
These results may help in designing more effective injury prevention programs and improve injury rehabilitation.
Ekstrand et al. American Journal of Sports Medicine, 39 (6): 1226-32, 2011.