Sunday, November 13, 2011

Are there regional differences in injury rate and severity in European top-level football teams?

Walden and colleagues from Linkoping University, Sweden, investigated regional differences in injury incidence in men’s football teams in Europe. Their study was recently published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports. A total of 26 top-level European football clubs were followed at various periods between 2001 and 2010. The different regions were categorized according to the climate type using an international climate classification system (Koppen-Geiger climate classification system).

The clubs in the northern and southern Europe group included in this study appear below.

Northern Europe group
  • AC Milan
  • AFC Ajax
  • Arsenal FC
  • BVB Dortmund
  • Chelsea FC
  • Club Brugge KV
  • FC Bayern Munchen
  • FC Inter
  • Hamburger SV
  • Juventus FC
  • Liverpool FC
  • Manchester United FC
  • Newcastle United FC
  • Olympique Lyonnais
  • Paris St Germain FC
  • PSV Eindhoven
  • Rangers FC
  • RC Lens
  • RSC Anderlecht
  • Stade Rennais FC

Southern Europe group
  • AFC Fiorentina
  • FC Barcelona
  • FC Porto
  • Real Madrid CF
  • SL Benfica

Injury was defined as “any physical complaint sustained by a player that results from a football training or match and leads to the player being unable to participate in future football training or match play” (Walden et al., 2011).

Main findings
  1. Overall, injury incidence was significantly higher for the northern group teams.
  2. Injury severity was also significantly higher for the northern group teams.
  3. Upper body, trunk and Achilles tendinopathy were more common in the northern group teams.
  4. No difference in injury rate was detected for hip/groin, thigh, knee and ankle.
  5. Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries rate was significantly higher in the southern group.

The authors concluded that there were regional differences in injuries rate in top-level teams in Europe. The higher overall injury rate in northern group was attributed to several factors, such as tactics, playing style and playing intensity. One possible explanation for the higher ACL injury incidence in southern part clubs was higher shoe-surface traction because of the warm weather, according to the researchers. 

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