Club and national team medical staff who work long hours dealing with the physical stresses and strains suffered by players will no doubt be delighted to hear that a Norwegian survey shows that hamstring injuries could be reduced by up to 80 per cent.
Hamstring injuries today represent at least 20 per cent of all football injuries and, in the worst cases, may end a career. Liverpool FC and England striker Michael Owen is one player who has suffered constant problems with this type of injury. However, a research project in Norway says that such injuries can be prevented with the correct training programme.
Thor Einar Andersen and Arni Arnason, from the Centre of Sports Injuries in Oslo, are the leaders of this project, which started just over a year ago when 14 Tippligaen clubs in Norway and 16 clubs in the two top divisions in Iceland agreed to adjust their training according to a special programme designed by the Oslo centre to prevent hamstring injuries.
Easy training programme
"The purpose of the programme was to see if the number of injuries and magnitude of them could be reduced with the correct physical coaching programme, based on the strength and mobility of the hamstring," the project leaders told uefa.com. "When the body is already warmed up, the training programme takes no more than 15 minutes to complete, and you do not need any equipment to do this special training programme," said Arnason.
During the past two years, Andersen and Arnason have been keen to study when and how hamstring injuries occur in order to build up the correct training schedule. The date of the injury was taken into consideration, as well as the activity, the time it happened (in the early, middle or latter part of a match or training session), the player's function when it occurred, and the length and the extent of the injury.
It is too early to say if this research will lead to a revolution within medical science, but the signs so far are very positive. Stabæk IF's Thomas Finstad has used the programme three times a week for some time now, and has been impressed with his development so far.
"We split into two groups," says Finstad. "One group of players used this programme, while the others were training their thigh muscles with weights. The ones that were training with the weights haven't progressed at all, while the ones who have been applying the new programme have become stronger, healthier and generally better in the air."
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