Physical performance, injuries and osteoarthrosis in female soccer

Abstract: The overall purpose was to investigate female soccer regarding injuries, risk factors, posttraumatic OA and non-traumatic OA. A prospective study of injuries in eight female soccer teams, from the six available levels, was performed during one season. The total injury rate was 14.3 and 3.7/1000 game and practice hours, respectively. The knee (26%) was the most common place for injury, followed by the foot (12%). An increased general joint laxity was found to be a significant risk factor for general injury and knee injury. In an attempt to find easy functional tests that do not require advanced equipment and that could be used instead of more advanced isokinetic tests, only low correlations between isokinetic strength measurements and functional tests, such as one-leg hop, triple jump, vertical jump, one-leg rising or square hop, were found. There were no differences in any of the tests found between players under /over the age of 20, except for knee flexor muscle strength, where a small but significant difference was seen. Female soccer players with ACL injury showed radiographic changes in the in 69%, and verified knee OA in 34% at the age of 31, 12 years after injury. A majority of the players suffered from symptoms affecting their sport and recreational activities and knee-related quality of life. However, the symptoms were not related to the presence of OA or having undergone surgery to the affected knee or not. Somewhat older female ex-soccer players (mean age 42 years) showed a prevalence of 3% and 17% of radiographic hip and knee OA, and had, with and without knee injuries, a 5-fold increased rate of knee osteoarthrosis compared to non-sporting females age 46, when age and BMI were adjusted for. No difference was seen between the female players and the non-sporting controls regarding hip OA. Increased general joint laxity was found to be a risk factor for injury. Female soccer players with an ACL injury had verified knee OA in 34% at the age of 31, 12 years after injury. Also, somewhat older female players after their career showed a high prevalence of radiographic knee OA and a 5-fold risk of developing knee OA compared to controls. Female soccer by itself and in combination with the high risk of knee injuries has an increased risk of OA. However, the positive effects of exercise, physical and mental, when playing soccer should not be ignored.

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