All soccer players and fans know that it is better to win than to lose. Yet the fact that victory also means less risk of injury is not as obvious. New findings from researchers in sports medicine at Linköping University have aroused great interest among Europe's elite soccer teams.
Håkan Bengtsson, a master's student in physiotherapy, has analysed data from 6272 games played by 26 of the top European clubs. The material comprises 2739 injuries and constitutes the world's largest database of its kind. The results was tabled at a regional conference on physiotherapy in Linköping March 22.
Based on information the clubs sent to the Swedish researchers once a month, Håkan Bengtsson then examined how the injury rate is influenced by three factors:
It turned out that the outcome of the match had the clearest correlation with the proportion of injuries. For teams that lost, the risk of injury was 21 percent greater than for the winning teams; in drawn games the risk was 15 percent higher.
"We have not established which is the chicken or the egg. The most likely scenario is that a player was injured during the match, which subsequently lead to a loss. The bottom line is that the clubs' medical work is vital to the results," says Håkan Bengtsson.
Bengtsson was somewhat surprised that a higher injury risk ensued for the home team than the away team. One conceivable explanation is that home teams play more aggressively coupled with longer and faster running sorties. With regard to the type of competition, Champions League matches appeared somewhat more dangerous than for the rhythm of the domestic leagues.
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