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  1. E O'Malley1,
  2. J Murphy2,
  3. C Gissane3,
  4. U McCarthy-Persson1,
  5. C Blake1
  1. 1UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Population Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland
  2. 2Medfit Wellness & Rehabilitation, Blackrock Business Park, Carysfort Avenue, Dublin, Ireland
  3. 3St Mary's University College, Twickenham, London, Ireland


Background Exercise-based training is proposed to aid injury prevention through enhanced neuromuscular-control and muscle strength.

Objective To assess the effects of exercise-based interventions on injury incidence in team sports.

Design Systematic review.

Setting 5 electronic databases were searched (12/01/13) returning 275 unique articles.

Participants 23 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) involving 21,479 participants were included.

Interventions Multifaceted exercise programmes were tested against controls (normal practice) in 12 studies, 7 studies used a balance board, 3 studies targeted hamstring strength and 1 study examined eccentric training of the Achilles and patellar tendons.

Main outcome measurements RCTs reporting overall or lower-limb injury incidence were included. Methodological quality of each trial was assessed using a tool developed by the Cochrane Bone, Joint and Muscle Trauma group (Goldman and Jones 2010). Meta-analysis was performed on homogenous studies using RevMan 5.1 software. Risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI) were calculated using the Mantel-Haenszel method in a random effects model.

Results Pooled-analysis of multifaceted exercise programmes demonstrated a reduction in overall (RR=0.65, 95% CI=0.44–0.96, P=.03), knee (RR=0.79, 95% CI=0.63–0.99, P=.04), ACL (RR=0.51, 95% CI=0.28–0.93, P=.03) and ankle injury risk (RR=0.72, 95% CI=0.58–0.90, P=.003). Balance board interventions were shown to reduce hamstring (RR=0.22, 95% CI=0.05–1.02, P=.05) and ankle injury (RR=0.64, 95% CI=0.49–0.83, P=.001). Hamstring muscle training had no significant effect (RR=0.46, 95% CI=0.19–1.11, P=.09). Eccentric training of the Achilles and patellar tendons demonstrated an increased injury risk (RR=2.5, 95% CI=1.35- 4.61, P=.003).

Conclusions Exercise-based interventions can reduce injury risk in team sports. Strategies are required to translate this evidence into practice.

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