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Does long-distance air travel associated with the Sevens World Series increase players’ risk of injury?

Abstract

Objective To assess whether players who cross ≥6 time zones and/or undertake ≥10 h air travel prior to competition experience a higher risk of injury during the Sevens World Series than players not required to undertake this level of travel.

Design Five-year, prospective, cohort study.

Participants All players from nine core teams competing in the Sevens World Series from 2008/2009 to 2013/2014.

Results A total of 436 match injuries and 3363 player-match-hours of exposure were recorded in the study, which corresponds to an overall incidence of 129.6 injuries/1000 player-match-hours, irrespective of the nature of pretournament travel. The incidence of injury for those players crossing ≥6 time zones and undertaking ≥10 h air travel prior to competition (99.3 injuries/1000 player-match-hours) was significantly lower than that of players undertaking ≥10 h air travel but crossing ≤2 time zones prior to competition (148.8 injuries/1000 player-match-hours; p=0.003) and of those undertaking ≤3 h air travel and crossing ≤2 time zones prior to competition (146.4 injuries/1000 player-match-hours; p=0.004). There was no significant difference in the incidence of injury for players crossing ≤2 time zones in the week prior to competition, irrespective of whether the length of air travel was ≤3 h or ≥10 h (p=0.904). Precompetition air travel had no significant effect (p=0.879) on the performance of teams in terms of their final Tournament ranking positions.

Conclusions There was no evidence to suggest that players were exposed to a greater risk of injury following extensive air travel and crossing multiple time zones prior to Tournaments in the Sevens World Series.

  • Travel
  • Jet lag
  • Fatigue
  • Injuries
  • Rugby

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