Objective The aim of this systematic review was to investigate the effect of exercise-based programmes in the prevention of non-contact musculoskeletal injuries among football players in comparison to a control group.
Design Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.
Data sources MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL, CINAHL, PEDro and SPORTDiscus databases were searched from the earliest record to January 2021.
Eligibility criteria Studies were eligible if they (1) included football players aged 13 years or older, (2) used exercise-based programmes as intervention, (3) presented the number of non-contact musculoskeletal injuries (ie, defined as any acute sudden onset musculoskeletal injury that occurred without physical contact) and exposure hours for each group, and (4) had a control group (eg, usual training, minimal intervention, education). All types of exercise-based prevention programmes were eligible for inclusion. Risk of bias for each included study and overall quality of evidence for the meta-analysis were assessed.
Results Ten original randomised controlled trials with 13 355 football players and 1 062 711 hours of exposure were selected. Pooled injury risk ratio showed very low-quality evidence that exercise-based prevention programmes reduced the risk of non-contact musculoskeletal injuries by 23% (0.77 (95% CI 0.61 to 0.97)) compared with a control group.
Conclusion Exercise-based prevention programmes may reduce the risk of non-contact musculoskeletal injuries by 23% among football players. Future high-quality trials are still needed to clarify the role of exercise-based programmes in preventing non-contact musculoskeletal injuries among football players.
PROSPERO registration number CRD42020173017.
- sporting injuries
- injury prevention
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Twitter @itolemes, @Rafael_Z_Pinto, @Evertverhagen, @cs_bolling
Contributors IRL, RZP, VNL, BABR and TRS conceived and designed the study. IRL and VNL conducted the search. IRL, VNL and BABR performed the screening, study selection and data extraction. IRL, RZP, STF and TRS analysed and interpreted the data. IRL, RZP and TRS drafted the manuscript with input from STF, EV, CB and CFA. All authors have read and approved the final version.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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