Tell us more about yourself and the author team
I’m a physiotherapist working in male elite football at IF Elfsborg, a club in the Swedish Allsvenskan. I’m currently working on my PhD in Sports Science, which is a collaboration between IF Elfsborg and the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, where my main subject is injuries and training load in football. My co-authors Dan Fransson and Matilda Lundblad also work within the club and the University of Gothenburg, Dan is the Head of physical performance at IF Elfsborg and PhD at the Department of Food, nutrition and Sport Science, and Matilda is a Team doctor at IF Elfsborg and PhD at the Department of Orthopaedics, Sahlgrenska Academy. Our other co-authors are Mats Börjesson who works as a professor at the Center for Lifestyle Intervention, Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy & Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg and Andreas Ivarsson who works as a professor at the School of Health and Welfare at Halmstad University.
What is the story behind your study?
Working in elite football, you often struggle with the question “How can we keep the players on the pitch as much as possible, avoiding injury but also striving for development?” This question made us curious to explore the association between injuries and training load in male elite youth football players. We believe that gaining a better understanding of this topic might contribute to reducing the risk of injury in a football environment.
In your own words, what did you find?
We found that within 30 days leading up to injury, the average training load volume for the majority of training load variables was lower and/or increasing compared to the 30-day control period.
What was the main challenge you faced in your study?
The main challenge for us was that since injury is a complex and dynamic outcome affected by many different risk factors, the goal of decreasing injury risk might be hard to reach. For example, we couldn’t control for confounding factors such as the quality of recovery between training sessions or the implementation of injury prevention programs, and these kinds of factors could affect the injury risk.
If there is one take-home message from your study, what would that be?
Periods with low and/or increasing average training load volume might be periods when football players have an increased risk of injury.