Objectives—To undertake a prospective epidemiological study of the injuries sustained in English professional football over two competitive seasons.
Methods—Player injuries were annotated by club medical staff at 91 professional football clubs. A specific injury audit questionnaire was used together with a weekly form that documented each club's current injury status.
Results—A total of 6030 injuries were reported over the two seasons with an average of 1.3 injuries per player per season. The mean (SD) number of days absent for each injury was 24.2 (40.2), with 78% of the injuries leading to a minimum of one competitive match being missed. The injury incidence varied throughout the season, with training injuries peaking during July (p<0.05) and match injuries peaking during August (p<0.05). Competition injuries represented 63% of those reported, significantly (p<0.01) more of these injuries occurring towards the end of both halves. Strains (37%) and sprains (19%) were the major injury types, the lower extremity being the site of 87% of the injuries reported. Most injury mechanisms were classified as being non-contact (58%). Re-injuries accounted for 7% of all injuries, 66% of these being classified as either a strain or a sprain. The severity of re-injuries was greater than the initial injury (p<0.01).
Conclusions—Professional football players are exposed to a high risk of injury and there is a need to investigate ways of reducing this risk. Areas that warrant attention include the training programmes implemented by clubs during various stages of the season, the factors contributing to the pattern of injuries during matches with respect to time, and the rehabilitation protocols employed by clubs.
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