November 07, 2016
2 min read

Injury prevention programs seen as effective in reducing ankle injuries in soccer players

Soccer players who participated in an injury prevention program had a 40% reduction in ankle injuries.

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Ankle injury prevention programs yielded a significant reduction in ankle injuries in soccer athletes, according to a study.

“Injury prevention programs designed for soccer athletes are effective at reducing the number or the incidence of ankle injuries in these athletes,” Nathan L. Grimm, MD, of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Duke University Hospital, told Orthopedics Today. “That goes for both the recreational athletes, as well as more competitive athletes.”

Injury prevention

Grimm and his colleagues performed a systematic literature review on clinical investigations of injury prevention programs specific to the ankle in soccer players using PubMed, Embase, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health and the Cochran Central Register of Controlled Trials databases.

Researchers identified 10 studies with a total of 4,121 soccer athletes analyzed for ankle injuries. Results showed significant heterogeneity among studies of ankle injury prevention. Researchers noted a risk ratio of 0.60 for studies of ankle injury prevention programs, as well as a significant reduction in the risk of ankle injury in the prevention group.

“What we found when we combined these studies is that there was an approximate 40% reduction in ankle injuries when these [soccer] players were involved in an injury prevention program compared to the individuals who did not participate in a specific injury prevention program,” Grimm said. “Those results were statistically significant and showed us that what [athletes] could do is decrease their risk of injury, a potentially career ending injury, by participating in an injury prevention program.”

Gender, age differences

Grimm noted the study results were limited by inconsistencies in the intervention groups across the studies, while all of the injury prevention programs utilized consisted of multiple components.

“Although they all call themselves injury prevention programs, some of them had somewhat of a different intervention,” Grimm said. “For example, a lot of [the studies] had a neuromuscular or proprioception intervention to them, meaning they worked on neuromuscular control and exercises, whereas some of them may not have had that.”

He added future research should analyze data to see if there is any statistically significant difference between men and women and between skeletally immature and mature athletes when it comes to decreasing ankle injuries.

“If you look at the CDC, you can see that there are over a quarter of a million soccer-related injuries per year. If we can figure out how we can prevent some of these injuries, we can increase the quality of these athletes’ lives and could also save a lot of money on potential injuries that could have been avoided,” Grimm said. – by Casey Tingle

Disclosure: Grimm reports no relevant financial disclosures.