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INJURY PREVENTION PROGRAMS
INJURY PREVENTION IS IMPORTANT FOR RESULTS
Success in sport is dependent on a number of factors (eg, skill, fitness, squad size, tactics, and psychological factors). Athlete durability is also a key component of success.
In team sports, research shows a strong link between player availability and the success of the team, and that injuries and illness are the most common reasons for athlete unavailability in training and matches (REF). Research in team sports demonstrates an inverse relationship between injury burden and success of the team. Lower player availability is associated with failure to achieve key performance indicators. Injuries detrimentally affect the final ranking position in team sports (REF). And, research from professional European football shows lower season injury rates results in more successful seasons (REF).
Injuries and illnesses also affect success in individual sports. In elite track and field athletics, injuries and illness and their influence on training availability during preparation are major determinants of an athlete's chance of performance goal success or failure. Research shows the likelihood of achieving a performance goal increases by 7-times in athletes who complete >80% of planned training weeks. And, training availability accounts for 86% of successful seasons (REF).
So, injuries can determine success of failure in team and individual sports. Therefore, injury prevention strategies should be a focus for success-driven athletes and teams.
INJURY PREVENTION PROGRAMS
A number of sporting bodies have developed standardised injury prevention programs that are very effective at reducing injury rates. Sports that include these programs into their training have been shown to have between 50-80 per cent fewer injuries. These injury prevention programs are a series of exercises that are reasonably quick and easy to perform as part of a warm up. They include plyometric (jumping and landing), neuromuscular control (challenging balance, agility, addressing poor movement patterns), and strength exercises.
For every 1,000 hours of game play, elite football players suffer between 12 – 35 injuries (REF). The most common types of injury sustained during a football game are muscle strains, ligament sprains, and contusions. Ankle, knee, and groin have the highest incidence of injury, and the greatest risk for sustaining an injury is during a football game as opposed to during a training session (REF).
The warm-up program “FIFA11+” is an injury prevention program designed by the Federation Internationale Football Association (FIFA) Medical and Research Centre (F-MARC) in 2006. It was designed to reduce the occurrence of injuries associated with playing football.
The FIFA11+ consists of three parts and 15 exercises in total:
The FIFA11+ program has been studied extensively over the last ten years to determine its effectiveness on injury prevention and physical performance measures, across a variety of populations. The FIFA11+ program has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of injuries in football (REF). This includes a 77% decrease in ACL injuries (REF), a 48% reduction in lower limb injuries (REF), and an overall injury reduction of 35% per 1000 hours (REF).
FIFA 11+ and more resources for injury prevention in football are available here: footballnsw.com.au/protection-and-safety/injury-prevention/
Netball Australia has developed the "KNEE Program” to help prevent knee and other lower limb injuries in netball.
Knee and ankle injuries are common in netball, making up three quarters of all injuries. Devastating ACL injuries are unfortunately common in netball, making up 25% of the serious injuries.
The KNEE program offers a range of warm-up exercises that help prevent injury. There are a range of age and experience appropriate exercises for junior, through to elite netballers. They are easily understood by players and coaches, with a number of options offering variability and progression.
It would be great for the KNEE program to be widely adopted by Australia's largest participation sport for females.
KNEE Program resources are available at: https://knee.netball.com.au
AUSTRALIAN RULES FOOTBALL
FootyFirst is a five level progressive exercise training program that has been developed specifically to reduce the risk of common leg injuries in community Australian rules football.
FootyFirst begins with a warm-up, followed by leg strengthening and conditioning exercises, and training to improve balance, landing and side-stepping skills. It requires only standard training equipment and can replace the traditional warm-up. Once players and coaches are familiar with the exercises, the warm-up should take about 5 minutes, and the strength and conditioning exercises and jumping, landing and changing direction activities about 15 minutes.
Performed correctly and frequently, FootyFirst will improve performance and reduce injury risk. FootyFirst has been shown to decrease knee injuries by 50% and all leg injuries by 22% (REF). It will improve players’ leg strength and control – from their hip to hamstring, groin to thigh, lower leg, knee, ankle and foot.
Resources include the FootyFirst Coaches’ Manual, a series of posters illustrating the exercises at each level, and the FootyFirst Coaches DVD is available at: aflcommunityclub.com.au/index.php?id=906
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