Research: Can Well-Developed Physical Qualities Reduce Risk of Injury?

Tracking player volumes throughout the season is just one piece to the monitoring puzzle, but can be an important one. This particular study looks at volumes of high speed running (HSR) and the risk of injury associated with specific volume ranges of HSR. They found that high speed running volumes below 675m per week had a higher risk of injury than those who completed moderate ranges (~700-750m).

Not only did they find that low volumes of HSR is undesired, increasing HSR volume too quickly (~350-450m) is also undesired.

These two ideas can help manage each athlete on the team. Typically, most big minute players won’t have an issue with achieving 750m+ high speed distance week in and week out. Where I think tracking these metrics can help is with substitutes and non-dress as well as post-injury athletes.

In the case of substitutes and non-dress players, keeping them at the level required to compete when called upon is the challenging part. While I like to see players get in fitness through specific soccer drills or SSG, it is inevitable that fitness work on the side is required. Usually I’ll aim to top off players on MD-2 and/or match day. Both days employ MAS concepts with one aimed at accumulating HSR volumes and the other to improve aerobic power without the accumulation of HSR volume.

In the case of post-injury scenarios, according to this research, using a 3-4 week progression to reintroduce HSR volumes post-injury may be better than cramming in HSR volume in a shorter period of time. The sudden increase in volume using shorter time frame may be too much for the athlete to handle at that time (especially in the case of hamstring injuries). Also, if the injured player has lost some aerobic fitness during their time away, it may be useful to improve this quality first or at least concurrently as increased aerobic fitness can improve HSR tolerance.

You can request the full text HERE.


High-speed running and sprinting as an injury risk factor in soccer: Can well-developed physical qualities reduce the risk?

Objectives: This study investigated the association between high-speed running (HSR) and sprint running (SR) and injuries within elite soccer players. The impact of intermittent aerobic fitness as measured by the end speed of the 30-15 intermittent fitness test (30-15VIFT) and high chronic workloads (average 21-day) as potential mediators of injury risk were also investigated.

Design: Observational Cohort Study. Methods: 37 elite soccer players from one elite squad were involved in a one-season study. Training and game workloads (session-RPE×duration) were recorded in conjunction with external training loads (using global positioning system technology) to measure the HSR (>14.4kmh(-1)) and SR (>19.8kmh(-1)) distance covered across weekly periods during the season. Lower limb injuries were also recorded. Training load and GPS data were modelled against injury data using logistic regression. Odds ratios (OR) were calculated with 90% confidence intervals based on 21-day chronic training load status (sRPE), aerobic fitness, HSR and SR distance with these reported against a reference group.

Results: Players who completed moderate HSR (701-750-m: OR: 0.12, 90%CI: 0.08-0.94) and SR distances (201-350-m: OR: 0.54, 90%CI: 0.41-0.85) were at reduced injury risk compared to low HSR (≤674-m) and SR (≤165-m) reference groups. Injury risk was higher for players who experienced large weekly changes in HSR (351-455-m; OR: 3.02; 90%CI: 2.03-5.18) and SR distances (between 75-105-m; OR: 6.12, 90%CI: 4.66-8.29). Players who exerted higher chronic training loads (≥2584 AU) were at significantly reduced risk of injury when they covered 1-weekly HSR distances of 701-750m compared to the reference group of <674m (OR=0.65, 90% CI 0.27-0.89). When intermittent aerobic fitness was considered based on 30-15VIFT performance, players with poor aerobic fitness had a greater risk of injury than players with better-developed aerobic fitness.

Conclusions: Exposing players to large and rapid increases in HSR and SR distances increased the odds of injury. However, higher chronic training loads (≥2584 AU) and better intermittent aerobic fitness off-set lower limb injury risk associated with these running distances in elite soccer players.

Published by John Grace

John is a performance coach, specializing in the development of speed, power, and strength, with experience coaching in professional soccer at the national and international level and in weightlifting at the junior, university, and senior national level and masters international level. Along with this professional and national level coaching, he has coached athlete's in a variety of semi-professional sports as well as Division I, II, and III athletics. With more than a decade of extensive coaching experience, he aims to provide an unparalleled training experience.

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