Injury rates reduce with six days of recovery

Chelsea did not have European football last season and experienced 2nd lowest number of injuries

Chelsea did not have European football last season and experienced 2nd lowest number of injuries

Injury rates are reduced when players get at least six days of recovery between matches, new research has found.

Professor Jan Ekstrand, who is leading Uefa’s elite club injury study, and Hakan Bengtsson, of the football research group at the University of Linkoping, looked at the occurrence of hamstring injuries among 2,625 players.

Players from dozens of European clubs were monitored, including eight sides in the Premier League. The research showed it made no difference if players had between two and five days of recovery time - but that muscle injuries went down if there were at least six days between games.

This would seem to favour either clubs that do not have fixture congestion - because they are not in European competition, for example - or those that have deep enough squads to be able to rotate.

Leicester won the Premier League in 2015/16 after having the lowest number of days lost to injury of all the 20 clubs. They were not in any European competition.

Neither were last season’s champions Chelsea, who recorded the second lowest number of days lost to injury.

“This research shows it doesn’t matter if [matches] are two, three, four or even five days apart,” Ekstrand told The Times newspaper.

“It is only when you have at least six days of recovery that you see a significant decrease in injury risk. It perhaps also means that instead of managers attacking the FA, Uefa or Fifa for having too tight a schedule, they should think more about rotating their squad, which is what several teams already do when they have matches close together.

“In 2013, Chelsea played Manchester City in the Premier League and two days later against Arsenal [in the Capital One Cup]. They changed 10 players and won both matches. Teams that avoid injuries tend to be more successful and win more matches.”

The study has been published in British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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