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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 July 2006, 06:55 GMT 07:55 UK
Footballers' 'repeat injury risk'
Michael Owen
Michael Owen has damaged knee ligaments
Researchers have come up with a finding that makes grim reading for footballers such as Michael Owen.

They have found that top footballers are likely to sustain the same injuries season after season.

The Swedish study found that suffering a hamstring, groin or knee joint injury almost tripled a player's chances of an identical injury the following season.

The study, by Linkoping University, is featured in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

One of the biggest challenges faced by top players is limited time for adequate rest, recovery and - in the case of an injury - rehabilitation
John Brewer

Owen suffered damage to his right knee anterior cruciate ligament during England's World Cup campaign. He is not expected to play again this year.

However, the study found no evidence that ankle sprains were likely to be repeated on a regular basis, and it did not examine metatarsal injuries, such as that suffered by Wayne Rooney weeks before the World Cup started.

The researchers examined reports involving 197 players from 12 top Swedish football teams.

The researchers looked at rates of injury over two consecutive seasons in 2001 and 2002.

Although older players tended to sustain hamstring injuries more than once, there was no overall association between age and the likelihood of an injury being repeated.

Repeat behaviour

Instead, they believe that repeat injuries are more likely to be the result of risk taking behaviour and psychological factors - if a player makes a mistake once, it might be likely that he will make the same mistake again.

In addition, certain injuries may also weaken a muscle or joint, leaving it vulnerable.

John Brewer, director of the Lucozade Sport Science Academy, said one of the biggest problems faced by top players was limited time for rest, recovery and rehabilitation from injury.

"With clubs and their managers under increasing pressure to deliver results, players know that an injury not only affects the performance of their team - it also means they aren't playing and in many cases their wage packet could also suffer.

"As a consequence, an inadequate amount of time is spent doing the basic strength and conditioning work that is needed to build up weakened muscle, tendon and joint strength, which are an essential part of the recovery process.

"If this doesn't happen, when a player resumes competitive matches, although the injury might have healed, the infrastructure of tendons, ligaments and muscles may not be back to full strength, so the chance of a similar or related injury re-occurring is greatly increased."

Mr Brewer said poor diet during an injury lay-off could also jeopardise the chances of a proper recovery.

High toll of football injuries
25 Jan 01 |  Health

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