Objective: To describe risk factors for injuries in elite female soccer.
Methods: A total of 143 female soccer players from the German national league participated in the study. Baseline information on player characteristics—for example, anthropometric measurements and playing position—and medical history were recorded at the start of the study. During one outdoor season, injuries and training and match exposure times were prospectively documented for each player.
Results: The risk of a new anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture was significantly increased in players with a previous rupture (odds ratio (OR) = 5.24, p = 0.01). This was not the case for ankle sprain (OR = 1.39) or knee sprain (OR = 1.50). In addition, no significantly increased risk of new sprains or ACL ruptures was found when the injured leg was the unit of analysis. Injury incidence was considerably higher in defenders (9.4 injuries per 1000 hours exposure) and strikers (8.4/1000 hours) than goalkeepers (4.8/1000 hours) and midfielders (4.6/1000 hours). Ten per cent of all players (n = 14) sustained more than three injuries. Most of these were defenders (n = 8) or strikers (n = 4). Significantly more injuries occurred to the dominant leg (105 v 71, p = 0.01); this was particularly true for contact injuries (52 v 29, p = 0.01).
Conclusions: Injury risk should be assessed on an individual basis. Therefore it seems appropriate to individualise preventive training programmes, as is recommended for other training content. Evaluating the existing rules of soccer and their appropriate application may also help to decrease injury risk, particularly in contact situations.
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Published Online First 6 July 2006
Competing interests: none declared
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