Preseason Workload Volume and High-Risk Periods for Noncontact Injury Across Multiple Australian Football League Seasons

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Abstract

Colby, MJ, Dawson, B, Heasman, J, Rogalski, B, Rosenberg, M, Lester, L, and Peeling, P. Preseason workload volume and high-risk periods for noncontact injury across multiple Australian Football League seasons. J Strength Cond Res 31(7): 1821–1829, 2017—The purpose of this study was to assess the association between preseason workloads and noncontact injury risk in Australian football players. Individual player injury data were recorded over 4 full seasons (2012–15) from one professional club. Noncontact injury incidence (per 1,000 “on legs” field training and game hours) was compared across the preseason, precompetition, and in-season phases to determine relative noncontact injury risk. Preseason workloads (global positioning system–derived total distance run and sprint distance) and individual (fixed) injury risk factors (age, previous injury history) were incorporated into the analysis. A generalized estimating equation with a binary logistic function modeled potential risk factors with noncontact injury for selected periods across the annual cycle. Odds ratios were calculated to determine the relative injury risk. The (preseason) precompetition phase (19.1 injuries per 1,000 hours) and (in-season) rounds 12–17 (16.0 injuries per 1,000 hours) resulted in the highest injury incidence. Low cumulative total distances in late preseason (<108 km) and precompetition (76–88 km) periods were associated with significantly (p ≤ 0.05) greater injury risk during the in-season phase. In conclusion, these results suggest players are at the greatest injury risk during the precompetition period, with low preseason cumulative workloads associated with increased in-season injury risk. Therefore, strength and conditioning staff should place particular emphasis on achieving at least moderate training loads during and leading into this phase, where competitive game play is first introduced.

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