A special 20-minute warm-up performed two to three times a week during preseason can cut soccer players' groin injuries by nearly one third, according to researchers at the Center for Athletic Hip and Groin Disorders in Santa Monica, California. Groin injuries, which range from minor strains to hernias requiring surgery, account for five percent of all sports injuries.
The researchers enrolled 315 major league soccer players in the prevention program. Athletes in the program had a groin injury incidence of 0.44 injuries per 1,000 hours, compared to 0.61 injuries per 1,000 hours among players who did not participate in the preseason prevention program.
The warm-up study included dynamic stretching and strengthening moves. "Our 28% injury reduction rate is highly significant," says Dr. Michael B. Gerhardt, director of the Center. Gerhardt is also team physician for United States Soccer and Chivas USA, a major league soccer team. "We were anticipating a 5-10% reduction rate, so we were pleasantly surprised that the injury reduction number was so high," he said.
"While we were able to prevent the total number of groin injuries, we were unable to significantly reduce the number of surgeries," Gerhardt noted. "Once an injury reaches the chronic stage, it is hard to manage with any treatment regimen, including ours. These players typically go on to require surgery."
Groin injury is a leading cause of lost playing time among professional athletes. Gerhardt and his study team argue that a simple, cost-effective, preseason training program could benefit teams worldwide.