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Higher risk of leg injury in previously injured athletes

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Athletes who have had any type of injury in the past may be more likely to suffer leg injuries, a new study suggests.

Researchers in Australia examined data from 12 previously published studies and found that many types of previous injuries, including concussions, were associated with a greater risk of lower limb injury, Reuters Health reports.

For example, previous history of an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury was associated with an increased risk of subsequent hamstring injury.

A previous muscle injury in the hamstrings, quadriceps, adductors and calves was associated with an increased risk of sustaining a muscle injury in a different part of the lower limb.

A history of concussion, back injuries and a variety of joint injuries were also associated with a higher risk of leg injuries in the future.

“When we are injured we generally only focus on the body part that is being rehabilitated, yet it is just as important to keep the non-injured parts of your body healthy and injury free,” commented lead study author Liam Toohey of La Trobe University in Bundoora, Australia, and the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra.

Following an injury, when athletes miss out parts of their normal training regimens, they may have a reduced fitness level and be in less than top condition when they resume participation in practice or competition, Toohey explained.

“During rehabilitation, it is common for the injured body site to be strengthened and conditioned, but often other body sites are not trained as much as they were before the injury,” Toohey added. “So when an athlete is ready to return to full training and competition, the other areas of their body may not be as conditioned as they need (to be) to withstand the demands of the sport — where they may then go on to sustain an injury at a different site.”

Isabel Moore, a sports and health sciences researcher at Cardiff Metropolitan University in the UK, who was not involved in the study, told Reuters Health that rehabilitation of other injuries must take into account what parts of the body carry most of the load in an athlete’s particular sport.

Psychological factors such as stress, anxiety and fear of re-injury also need to be addressed, as these are known to influence the chances of sustaining an injury, Moore said.