UEFA Injury Study making strides

UEFA, its member associations, its clubs and their medical staff are working side by side to diminish the impact of injuries with studies also being run in relation to UEFA competitions, under Professor Jan Ekstrand.

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UEFA, its member associations, its clubs and their medical staff are working side by side to diminish the impact injuries have in the European game. Specific studies are run in relation to the various UEFA competitions, under the leadership of Professor Jan Ekstrand.

Mutual benefit
The UEFA Injury Study's remit is to learn more about injury patterns and risks, increase the safety of football and decrease the number of injuries with the aim of providing information of mutual benefit not only to European football's governing body, but also to the clubs and national associations throughout Europe. The project is led by Professor Ekstrand, the UEFA Medical Committee vice-chairman, who is currently studying the injury patterns at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship in his homeland of Sweden.

Communication vital
He underlines that the study, launched in 2001 upon the initiative of FIFA, UEFA and the other continental confederations, has made great strides in injury prevention. However, Professor Ekstrand believes that the project must now be taken to the next level to continue its development and further reduce risk, with communication and stability still capable of being improved upon. "UEFA and FIFA are doing lot of work to minimise this risk – injury studies are the first basic step in injury prevention," he told uefa.com.

Consistency key
"At another level, injury prevention is mainly about giving players individual programmes for stretching, strengthening and improving co-ordination," he added. "At a professional level, this is not enough. The load factor is more important – this is decided by coaches and by the board. Consistencies of the club in terms of coaching staff and the playing style are even more important factors. However, the key to injury prevention at the top level is about communication between coaching staff, medical staff and the board."

Injury guides
The study ascertained that hamstring injuries were the most common ailment at élite level, mostly due to the intensity and speed of the game. In a 25-player squad, for example, ten players on average suffered thigh injuries, seven of which were hamstring ailments. You can find out more about hamstring pulls, and ten other common injuries, in a series of short videos by Professor Ekstrand on the UEFA Training Ground. Click here to watch.

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