FRIDAY, Jan. 15 (HealthDay News) -- A soccer-specific exercise program can help prevent injuries in young female players, says a new study.
The program features strengthening exercises aimed at improving motion patterns, to help reduce strain on the knee joint. The training sessions were integrated into regular soccer practices, and a seminar to increase awareness of injury risk was held for players, team leaders and parents.
The Swedish study included 777 girls, ages 13 to 19, from 48 teams that participated in the program, as well as a control group of 729 players from 49 teams.
Three knee injuries, including one non-contact injury (not involving another player), occurred in girls taking part in the program, compared with 13 knee injuries and 10 non-contact injuries among the players in the control group.
That means the program resulted in a 77 percent reduction in the incidence of knee injuries and a 90 percent reduction in the incidence of non-contact knee injuries, said Dr. Ashkan Kiani, of Uppsala Primary Care, Uppsala County Council and colleagues.
"The rate of injury was not only lower among teams participating in the preventive program but the injuries that did occur were also less severe," the study authors wrote. While all three injuries in the intervention group were major, all three players were fully active within six months. In the control group, most injuries were severe and only four of the 13 injured players were fully active within six months.
The study is published in the Jan. 11 issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.
The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons offers tips for preventing soccer injuries.