Fewer injuries for winning teams

New findings from researchers in sports medicine at Linköping University have aroused great interest among Europe’s elite soccer teams.

Sjukgymnast Håkan Bengtsson

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 will be tabled at a regional conference on physiotherapy Thursday, March 22.

Based on information the clubs sent to researchers in Linköping once a month, Håkan Bengtsson then examined how the injury rate is influenced by three factors:

  • the result
  • home or away match
  • type of competition

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.

Håkan Bengtsson’s study is based on nine years of data collection in a football research group where sports scientists Jan Ekstrand and Martin Hägglund were at the forefront. The research is funded by, among others, the European Football Association (UEFA) and the English Premier League.

The Sixth Regional Conference on physiotherapy is organized by Linköping University and the four counties in the healthcare region. The conference offers eleven presentations and a guest lecture by the British professor Nadine Foster.

Time: March 22, 2012 10:00 – 16:30
Location: Berzelius Hall, Campus U.S., Linköping, Sweden 
Homepage: The Sixth Regional Conference on Physiotherapy (in Swedish)

Håkan Bengtsson, +46 13 318 990, +46 704 164 191, (Regarding the football injury study)
Asa Fahlstedt, +46 101 031 754, (Regarding the conference)

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