Rugby union, soccer and touch football: Injury classification (masters athletes)

Joe Walsh, Mike Climstein, Ian Heazlewood, Kent Adams, Mark de Beliso, Stephen Burke, Jyrki Kettunen

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


    Introduction: There is growing evidence that physical activity across the lifespan is beneficial for improved health. However older athletes may display an increased range of pathologies and physiological changes due to aging. These factors may result in changes to patterns of injury incidence, when compared to younger populations, engaged in competitive sport. The World Masters Games (WMG) is the largest international sporting competition in terms of participant numbers. Despite these large numbers, this cohort of athletes remains proportionately under investigated. The study aim was to investigate trends in injury type and location for a representative sample from this population. It was hypothesized that injury trends (acute and overuse) would be similar in incidence and location to an elite European soccer population. It was thus expected that muscle/tendon sprain was significantly the most common injury and the lower extremities (excluding knees, feet and ankles) were the most commonly injured location.

    Methods: This study investigated the 2009 Sydney WMG football code athletes (soccer, touch football, rugby union) as a sub-sample of the Sydney WMG population. An online survey was utilized to investigate participants’ health histories. Electronic invitations were sent to masters games athletes who provided a valid email address. Location and injury classification were analyzed statistically and compared to trends published on 4483 injuries reported in elite European soccer athletes.

    Results and discussion: 931 athletes (age 29–72 yrs, mean 47.6, SD + 7.1, 52.5% male, 47.5% female) participated. Injury classifications and location distributions were examined using contingency tables. The most common classifications of injury reported were muscle/tendon strain (13.0%, χ2 = 232.8, p ≪ 0.01), inflammation (6.1%, χ2 = 17.2, p < 0.05), joint pain (6.0%, χ2 = 15.7, p < 0.05) and ligament sprain/tear (5.8%, χ2 = 13.1, p < 0.05). Comparatively punctures (0.1%, χ2 = 31.2), dehydration (0.1%, χ2 = 31.2), lacerations (0.3%, χ2 = 27.4) (all p-values < 0.01) and dislocation (0.6%, χ2 = 22.2, p < 0.05) were significantly less common. A total of 346 of the Injuries were designated according to specific locations of the body. Analysis indicated that the most common injury location was the legs (11.2%, χ2 = 37.2, p < 0.01), this figure excluded injuries to knees, feet and ankles, which were not significantly different to expected values, using a contingency tables. Comparing the 13 injury locations: face, head (other), chest, eye, abdomen/pelvis, hand, spine/back, hip and shoulder were all proportionately under represented (all p-values < 0.01).

    Conclusion: As hypothesized, results for injury location and classification in preparation for the Sydney WMG show similarities in location and injury type to a younger population of elite, professional soccer athletes.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number155
    Pages (from-to)e76-e76
    Number of pages1
    JournalJournal of Science and Medicine in Sport
    Issue numberSupplement 1
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    Event2011 Australian Conference of Science and Medicine in Sport: Optimising health and fitness–Participation, prevention and performance -
    Duration: 19 Oct 201122 Oct 2011


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