Can we Prevent Football Injuries?
David Goodwin, Physiotherapist
Injuries are an inevitable part of playing sport, but can we prevent football injuries? They can be frustrating, costly and lead to lasting problems. The Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) report on the 2014/15 A-League season reported 1.06 injuries per game, with each injury taking an average of 4.8 weeks to recover. W-league statistics are slightly better. 75% of recorded injuries were lower limb in nature.
At a grassroots level, we don’t really know the injury rate as it has never been measured accurately. My guess would be that the results would be very similar, if not a little higher.
FIFA, through its peak sports medicine body, F-Marc, developed the FIFA 11+ programme in 2007.
FIFA 11+ is a set of 11 exercises designed as a warm up and strengthening/control programme for football players. The programme has 3 levels to progress through as strength and control improves. It has been designed to be performed in less than 20 minutes a couple of times per week.
Numerous, well controlled studies have shown that FIFA 11+ decreases the risk of injury by more than 35% when performed on a regular basis. Further to this, studies have shown an improvement in performance when the exercises are done regularly.
The exercises are specific to particular areas and muscle groups with correct form and technique being emphasised throughout. You can download the programme at www.f-marc.com/11plus/
The only drawback with FIFA 11+ is that it has been developed and recommended for those aged 14 and older.
So what of the younger age groups? A modified programme utilising the key principles of the FIFA 11+ can be implemented. My early results with this programme have shown significant improvements in co-ordination and general control in this younger population.
In short, there is now some very good research to show that a proper warm up, appropriate strengthening and control work can decrease the risk of injury and improve performance.