Football is the most popular sport in the world. In addition to the masses who watch it, millions of people actively engage in it, either recreationally or professionally. But as a sport requiring substantial physical effort, football is also associated with a variety of injuries. Multiple studies have dealt with the issue of football injuries but there is still little knowledge about risk factors as perceived by elite players and prevention practices favoured in professional circles. Some gaps in this knowledge have been filled by a French study, which focused on non-contact injuries.
The researchers, who have published their findings online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, approached 93 premier league football clubs around the world. In addition to risk perceptions and injury prevention tactics, the survey also included sections on people involved in the prevention programme and the exercises used as part of that programme. The French study team believes that the findings could help narrow the gap between research and practice.
Based on the replies in the 44 surveys returned, the researchers determined that physiotherapists were the central figures in injury prevention programmes. When it comes to perceived risk factors for non-contact injuries, a previous trauma was ranked first. The top five was completed by fatigue, muscle imbalance, fitness and movement efficiency. A similar list was compiled for the exercises clubs most often rely on in their injury prevention strategies. The top spot on this list was occupied by eccentric exercise, followed by balance/proprioception, hamstring eccentric and core stability. Fifth place was shared by Nordic hamstring and gluteus activation. As for the most widely employed injury identification test, this turned out to be the functional movement screen.