In order to prevent injury, it is important to have a thorough understanding about both the incidence of injury and injury mechanisms. This FastFact, produced by the Isokinetic Medical Group (a FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence), and published in the BJSM evaluates anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries in a population of Italian professional football players (Serie A and Serie B).1.
Online databases were searched to identify ACL injuries. A total of 148 injuries were identified across 10 seasons, with adequate video footage being found for 134 of these injuries. Video footage of each of these injuries was independently reviewed by three assessors using a standardised template. The injury mechanism and the ‘situational pattern’ was evaluated by each assessor with a more formal biomechanical analysis being performed on 107 of the injuries. The situational pattern referred to the activity the injured player was involved in, for example pressing and tackling, being tackled or landing from a jump.
The most significant finding was that the vast majority of ACL injuries in this cohort of professional players (88%) occurred without direct contact to the knee. This is consistent with previous research. What has not been so widely reported elsewhere however is that a large number of the injuries did involve indirect contact (to other anatomical sites) or perturbation. Two thirds of all documented injuries involved defending with the most commonly observed situational patterns being pressing, being tackled and kicking, while the majority of injuries occurred in the first half of the season and in dry conditions
This study has highlighted the role of perturbation/indirect contact on ACL injury risk in male professional football. It is possible that an increased focus on perturbation training may help reduce the incidence of this injury.
To learn more about injuries to the ACL and injury prevention, complete the ACL and Injury Prevention modules in the FIFA Diploma in football medicine.
1. Della Villa F, Buckthorpe M, Grassi A, et al Systematic video analysis of ACL injuries in professional male football (soccer): injury mechanisms, situational patterns and biomechanics study on 134 consecutive cases British Journal of Sports Medicine Published Online First: 19 June 2020. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2019-101247