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Previous injury as a risk factor for injury in elite football: a prospective study over two consecutive seasons
  1. M Hägglund,
  2. M Waldén,
  3. J Ekstrand
  1. Department of Health and Society, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to:
 M Hägglund
 Department of Health and Society, Linköping University, S-58183 Linköping, Sweden; martin.hagglund{at}


Background: Previous injury is often proposed to be a risk factor for football injury, but most studies rely on players reporting their own medical history and are thus potentially subject to recall bias. Little is known about the natural variation in injury pattern between seasons.

Objectives: To study whether prospectively recorded injuries during one season are associated with injuries sustained during the following season, and to compare injury risk and injury pattern between consecutive seasons.

Methods: The medical staffs of 12 elite Swedish male football teams prospectively recorded individual exposure and time loss injuries over two full consecutive seasons (2001 and 2002). A multivariate model was used to determine the relation between previous injury, anthropometric data, and the risk of injury.

Results: The training and match injury incidences were similar between seasons (5.1 v 5.3 injuries/1000 training hours and 25.9 v 22.7/1000 match hours), but analysis of injury severity and injury patterns showed variations between seasons. Players who were injured in the 2001 season were at greater risk of any injury in the following season compared with non-injured players (hazard ratio 2.7; 95% confidence interval 1.7 to 4.3, p<0.0001). Players with a previous hamstring injury, groin injury, and knee joint trauma were two to three times more likely to suffer an identical injury in the following season, whereas no such relation was found for ankle sprain. Age was not associated with an increased injury risk.

Conclusions: This study confirmed previous results showing that previous injury is an important risk factor for football injury. Overall injury incidences were similar between consecutive seasons, indicating that an injury surveillance study covering one full season can provide a reasonable overview of the injury problem among elite football players in a specific environment. However, a prolonged study period is recommended for analyses of specific injury patterns.

  • risk factor
  • injury
  • re-injury
  • football
  • soccer
  • multivariate model

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  • Published Online First 19 July 2006

  • Competing interests: none declared