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Overuse injuries are prevalent in children’s competitive football: a prospective study using the OSTRC Overuse Injury Questionnaire


Objectives To investigate the prevalence and burden of overuse injuries in children’s football as well as player characteristics and their association with overuse injury risk.

Methods This investigation is based on the control arm (10 clubs) of a randomised controlled trial investigating prevention of injuries in youth football. We conducted a prospective 20-week follow-up study on overuse injuries among Finnish football players (n=733, aged 9–14 years). Each week, we sent a text message to players’ parents to ask if the player had sustained any injury during the past week. Players with overuse problem were interviewed over the phone using an overuse injury questionnaire. The main outcome measures were prevalence of all overuse injuries and substantial overuse injuries (those leading to moderate or severe reductions in participation or performance) and injury severity.

Results The average response rate was 95%. In total, 343 players (46.8%) reported an overuse problem while in the study. The average weekly prevalence of all overuse problems and substantial overuse problems was 12.8% and 6.0%, respectively. Injuries affecting the knee had the highest weekly prevalence (5.7% and 2.4% for all and substantial knee problems, respectively). Girls had a higher likelihood of knee problems (OR 2.70; 95% CI 1.69 to 4.17), whereas boys had a higher likelihood of heel problems (OR 2.82; 95% CI 1.07 to 7.44). The likelihood of reporting an overuse problem increased with age (OR 1.21; 95% CI 1.00 to 1.47).

Conclusion Overuse injuries are prevalent in children’s competitive football. Knee overuse injuries represent the greatest burden on participation and performance.

Trial registration number ISRCTN14046021.

  • sporting injuries
  • adolescent
  • soccer
  • overuse injury

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