A recent blog in the British Journal of Sports Medicine titled ‘Who is to blame for all the football injuries?’ discussed the issue of sports injuries and injury prevention. Author Dr John Orchard is a sports physician from Australia who provides injury surveillance consultancy services for the Australian Football League and Cricket Australia. In his blog, Dr Orchard highlights the fact that return to play decisions are often made separately by both medical staff and club managers. With club culture often favouring the decision of the club manager, medical staff can often be left wondering why an injured player is allowed to return to play. Dr Orchard explains how contract commitments, fan-based expectations and more and more ‘important games’ are being played and how this can lead to medical advice being conveniently overlooked.
During the recent FIFA medical conference, Dr Michel D’Hooghe from the Union of European Football Associations, stated that to combat the alarming amount of sporting injuries sustained by footballers, ‘Physicians at the medical conference felt that the ideal number of matches should not exceed 60 performances a year.’ Recovery time for players is reduced with more games being played. More than ever, sports medicine clinicians need to base their recommendations on research evidence.
Chapter 9 of the new edition of the Clinical Sports Medicine Textbook, titled ‘Principles of injury prevention’ is an important resource for clinicians working with sporting clubs. The chapter provides evidence-based recommendations for clinicians working with sports teams, including a summary of the principles behind aerobic, strength and power training. It contains an updated ‘Stretching for prevention and performance‘ section co-authored by sports physician Dr Ian Shrier. Doctor Schrier has published extensively on the effects of exercise and sporting injuries. Highlighting that the timing of stretching is crucial, the potential mechanisms of the effect of stretching and specificity of stretching techniques are discussed. Also in the chapter, Dr Orchard discusses the role of playing surfaces in injury prevention. Dr Orchard has previously published on the role of specific grasses and ACL injury rates in his paper titled ‘Is there a relationship between ground and climatic conditions and injuries in football?’
For any clinician wanting to incorporate injury prevention exercises, a sound knowledge of training methods and principles should be understood. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) medical research centre (F-MARC) has developed the FIFA 11 program to help reduce the risk of injury in football. Currently updated to the FIFA 11+ program, it is an example of an evidence-based prevention program which incorporates 11 simple exercises with progressions and which can be completed in 10 to 15 minutes. To learn more about FIFA 11+ simply go to the FIFA homepage, or refer to Chapter 32 titled ‘Acute knee injuries’ in the new clinical sports medicine textbook which dedicates a whole section on the program.