Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Reducing groin injuries in professional football

4 Jul 2014 00:00 | Communication

The injury to Nigel de Jong during the World Cup was a major blow to the Dutch football team. This was not an isolated incident: groin injuries are occurring more and more frequently in professional football.

As squads grow smaller, there are younger and younger players on the pitch. Therefore, the Amsterdam University for Applied Sciences (AUAS) is launching the Groin Injury Prevention (GRIP) project with the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) and twelve Dutch professional football clubs. This project was today awarded a 300,000 euro RAAK (Regional Attention and Action for Knowledge circulation)-SME subsidy by the Innovation Alliance Foundation (SIA) for the next two years.

Groin injuries occur on a large scale in professional football. They often concern irritating and long-term injuries. And the chance of recurring groin injuries is high. AUAS Professor of Sports Medicine Janine Stubbe wrote the GRIP project proposal with Igor Tak and Rob Langhout, physiotherapists/researchers and Anne-Marie van Beijsterveld, TNO researcher. Stubbe is heading the study: “Far too little is known about why players get injured and how to achieve the best possible and thus timely and safe return to the pitch.”

GRIP study launched

In cooperation with the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB), football clubs and physiotherapists, the AUAS professorship of Sports Medicine aims to improve the return-to-play process. The partners will register the training load and groin injuries among professional players online from 2015 in the GRIP project. Physical tests will also be used to determine which players are at risk. This will result in a protocol with best practices for the treatment of groin injuries by the end of 2016.

Young players, small squad

Why are groin injuries on the increase in professional football? Professor Janine Stubbe explains: “More and more football clubs in the Netherlands are in financial difficulties. This forces them to reduce their squads to an average of 22 players. In addition, clubs increasingly seek young talented players. These players do not always have the level of physical fitness needed to play at the top level every week.” Trainer Phillip Cocu sounded the alarm about the younger squad during PSV Eindhoven’s dramatic first half of the season: only two of PSV’s players had not been injured. The costs of salaries that ‘drain away’ due to injuries amount to some 21 million euros a year in the Netherlands.