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n International SportMed Journal - The influence of match frequency on the risk of injury in professional soccer : original research article
Background : To the best of these authors' knowledge, no previous study of professional soccer players playing different match frequencies has been conducted to investigate the risk of injury at the highest club competitive level in South America.
Research question : To analyse the risk of injury in professional soccer players involved in two tournaments with different match frequencies.
Type of study : Prospective cohort study.
Method : A total of 95 professional players from several Argentinian teams were included. Forty players were involved only in the National Championship (Low Match Frequency, LMF) and 55 players took part in both tournaments: the National Championship and the Libertadores Cup (High Match Frequency, HMF). Exposure to football and injury incidence, severity and distribution were compared between LMF and HMF players.
Results : HMF players had greater exposure to matches (18.6 vs. 14 matches per season p<0.01), whereas exposure to training did not differ. There was a higher risk of injury during training (4.5 vs. 1.2 /1000 h, p<0.01) and total exposure (8.9 vs. 5.0 /1000 h, p<0.01) in HMF players than in LMF players, whereas no difference was observed with respect to matches played. After an injury, HMF players had longer absences from matches played (3.5 vs. 1 match, p<0.01), training (14.4 vs. 6.8 days, p<0.01) and total exposure (21.7 vs. 9.4 days, p<0.01). The most prevalent diagnoses were muscular and tendon injuries more frequently observed in HMF players (55.4 % vs. 44.8 %, p<0.05).
Conclusions : Professional soccer players involved in two tournaments are exposed to a higher risk of injury. This phenomenon would have a greater influence on training sessions than on matches played.
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