Tell us more about yourself and the author team.
I wrote this article with my direct colleague Huib Valkenberg and professor Evert Verhagen of the Amsterdam UMC. We have been working together for a long time in sports injury prevention. Huib and I work at VeiligheidNL (the Dutch Consumer Safety Institute), the knowledge centre for injury prevention in the Netherlands. I have been working here for 15.5 years now, of which a large part of the time within the team sports as a researcher and project leader. I am involved in monitoring sports injuries and other projects in sports injury prevention, including the implementation of effective interventions for the prevention of volleyball and field hockey injuries. In 2015 I obtained my PhD at Utrecht University on treating ankle ligament injuries.
My colleague Huib Valkenberg has been working at VeiligheidNL for a little longer. He is a researcher and responsible for, among other things, analyses of the annual national sports injury data. Like me, he is involved in monitoring sports injuries and other knowledge questions about sports injuries and sports injury prevention. Other topics he is working on are traffic accidents, alcohol- and drug-related injuries and monitoring of fireworks injuries.
The third author of our article is Evert Verhagen. He, amongst other things, holds a University Research Chair as a full professor at the Department of Public and Occupational Health of the Amsterdam UMC and the Amsterdam Movement Science Research Institute. He is also Editor in Chief of BMJ Open Sports & Exercise Medicine.
What is the story behind your study?
During an annual meeting with representatives of universities and other organizations involved in monitoring sports injuries in the Netherlands, I presented the latest injury data from registration at emergency departments in the Netherlands. During this presentation, Evert Verhagen noted that it is always important to link the trends in sports injuries to the trends in sports participation. And that he wanted to write an article with us about it. A first appointment was scheduled, in which the available data on sports injuries and sports participation in the Netherlands were reviewed. This showed that it is also interesting to look at differences between novice and experienced athletes. Eventually, this became the guideline for the article.
In your own words, what did you find?
We found that both sports participation and sports injuries increased in the period 2010-2014 in two major sports in the Netherlands, fitness and running. A second important finding was that the novice athletes, i.e. athletes with less than 1 year of sports experience, had a higher risk of injury in both sports annually, so more injuries per 1000 hours of sports participation.
What was the main challenge you faced in your study?
The biggest challenge within this study was determining the exact research question and the data that we could use for the article. It took a while before we had a clear idea of the research question we wanted to answer. Once that was the case, we could perform the analyses quickly. A second challenge was also finding time to write. Publishing is not a core business for us at VeiligheidNL, and often current projects have priority.
If there is one take-home message from your study, what would that be?
It is a take-home message from the study and the developments around it. Sports and exercise are getting more and more attention in the Netherlands. Sports stimulation should contribute to the fact that by 2040 three-quarters of the Dutch population meets the exercise guidelines. Through this sports stimulation, novice athletes with their higher injury risk will enter the sports field. It is important to pay attention to injury prevention in this group to prevent some of these athletes from dropping out again due to an injury. The injury prevention must match the target group and the context to have a chance of success. Sports stimulation and safe starting with sports should go hand in hand.