MUSCLE INJURY PREVENTION IN ELITE FOOTBALL PLAYERS, WHAT EXERCISES WORK?
Muscle injuries are a major concern in the world of football. Therefore, the focus on preventive strategies for muscular injuries is fundamental.
Designing injury prevention programs is a top priority for coaching staff in the pursuit to reduce the incidence of injuries. A recent review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine analyzed 24 systematic reviews in order to identify the exercise combinations that are most effective to prevent an injury. The study assessed the effectiveness of combining different technical, strength, agility, plyometric, balance, stretching, and warm-up exercises in terms of their ability to reduce the rate of lower extremity injuries. A joint analysis demonstrated that interventions which combine different exercises were the most effective to reduce the injury incidence in the lower extremities, including ankle, knee, and anterior cruciate ligament injuries. From the programs studied, eleven were shown to be effective to reduce injuries, ten of which were comprised mainly of strength and balance exercises. Regarding injury to the anterior cruciate ligament – one of the most significant and well-studied lower extremity injuries – it was determined that agility and plyometric exercises in combination with strength and balance exercises were beneficial to reduce the injury incidence.
This review demonstrates that a training program designed with different exercises can help reduce injury rates when strength training and balance exercises are included (i.e. proprioception, dynamic stability, and body control).
The Barça Innovation Hub team