Injuries in elite athletes – can these be predicted by sports physios?

Alex Kountouris, lead physiotherapist for the Australian Cricket Team, recently published a blog post about injury rates in the AFL over the course of a season. He had looked at the data regarding the player load, which was calculated by multiplying the rate of perceived exertion (RPE) by the training or match duration. As you might expect, players with higher loads over a one or two week period had an increased incidence of injury. Also, players who had sharp loads from the previous week were also at higher risk of injury. And it’s not just the AFL – similar results were found when a similar study was done on cricketers in 2009.

So what’s the point of research like this?

If you are a sports physiotherapist, not only do you need to be treating injuries as they arise, but there is also massive importance in preventing injuries. While some injuries are ‘luck of the draw’ and just occur while the athlete is performing (e.g. during a tackle), the onus is on the team sports physiotherapists to be preventing the foreseeable injuries.
With less than two months until rugby league’s State of Origin, be on the lookout to see what ‘extra’ injuries occur during that busy time in the league schedule. It will be interesting to follow if players are rested, or play through and risk injury.

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