Injury rates decreased in men’s professional football: An 18-year prospective cohort study of almost 12 000 injuries sustained during 1.8 million hours of play
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionBritish Journal of Sports Medicine. 2021, 55(19), 1084–1091. 10.1136/bjsports-2020-103159
Background: The UEFA Elite Club Injury Study is the largest and longest running injury surveillance programme in football. Objective: To analyse the 18-season time trends in injury rates among male professional football players. Methods: 3302 players comprising 49 teams (19 countries) were followed from 2000–2001 through 2018–2019. Team medical staff recorded individual player exposure and time-loss injuries. Results: A total of 11 820 time-loss injuries were recorded during 1 784 281 hours of exposure. Injury incidence fell gradually during the 18-year study period, 3% per season for both training injuries (95% CI 1% to 4% decrease, p=0.002) and match injuries (95% CI 2% to 3% decrease, p<0.001). Ligament injury incidence decreased 5% per season during training (95% CI 3% to 7% decrease, p<0.001) and 4% per season during match play (95% CI 3% to 6% decrease, p<0.001), while the rate of muscle injuries remained constant. The incidence of reinjuries decreased by 5% per season during both training (95% CI 2% to 8% decrease, p=0.001) and matches (95% CI 3% to 7% decrease, p<0.001). Squad availability increased by 0.7% per season for training sessions (95% CI 0.5% to 0.8% increase, p<0.001) and 0.2% per season for matches (95% CI 0.1% to 0.3% increase, p=0.001). Conclusions: Over 18 years: (1) injury incidence decreased in training and matches, (2) reinjury rates decreased, and (3) player availability for training and match play increased.
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