Muscle injuries to the lower limbs represent the great majority of injuries in soccer. None of the prevention strategies succeeded in reducing injury incidence over the last decade, yet these injuries represent a huge decrease in performance for the players and in benefits for the clubs.

Repeated sprints are the key factor inducing muscle injuries in soccer. By measuring and predicting the impact of repeated sprints on each player’s physiology, inCORPUS® is an innovative technology for injury prevention.

Frequent injuries, long unavailability, huge costs

Over one season, a group of 25 players suffers 18 muscle injuries in average (excluding bruise and contusion) resulting in unavailability from 1 to 3 days in 13% cases, 4 to 7 days in 25% cases, 8 to 28 days in 48% cases and more than 28 days in 14% cases. Therefore a total of 321 days of absence, the duration of an entire season (1) ! These injuries occur for the most part on the hamstrings, thigh muscles and groin, without physical contact.

The reduction of these injuries is crucial for each club, their sport and financial performances being strongly impacted. Downgrading one rank in the English Premier League is equivalent to a loss of 8 million pounds (9 million euros) (2).

Repeated sprints increase the risk of injury

The risk of injury increases during the periods where the matches are close to each other (two or three matches per week) (3,4). A sudden increase in repeated sprints beyond the biannual average is the main factor triggering muscle injuries in the absence of physical contact. This risk is multiplied by 6.4 in the week following the sudden increase (5).

Repeated sprints influence the internal load

The key for injury prevention in professional soccer is likely the players’ internal load optimization6. The measure of external load using GPS systems is well known, it allows for example to quantify the repeated sprints. But it did not allow to decrease the risk of muscle injuries in the past ten years (2). It is therefore essential to have a holistic approach that integrates the external and the internal loads.

Repeated sprints have a profound effect on the body physiology and strongly influence the players’ internal load. Today, inCORPUS® is the only technology able to measure the internal load and to predict it, thanks to its innovative use of HRV. The fatigue profiles determined and anticipated by inCORPUS®, associated to the measures of external load result in an essential technology for coaches and staff to optimize training load and reduce the risk of injuries.

It is vital to anticipate and combine the external and internal loads.

Thanks to its last generation HRV approach, inCORPUS® allows to predict the fatigue states, which in turn allows the technical staff to anticipate the decisions and improve the training group management. Soccer and rugby entered the era of data, it is now time to integrate external and internal loads, inCORPUS® is the only technology enabling it.

Scientific references

(1)          Ekstrand, J.; Hägglund, M.; Waldén, M. Injury Incidence and Injury Patterns in Professional Football: The UEFA Injury Study. Br. J. Sports Med. 2011, 45 (7), 553–558.

(2)          Eliakim, E.; Morgulev, E.; Lidor, R.; Meckel, Y. Estimation of Injury Costs: Financial Damage of English Premier League Teams’ Underachievement Due to Injuries. BMJ Open Sport Exerc. Med.2020, 6 (1), e000675.

(3)          Hulin, B. T.; Gabbett, T. J.; Caputi, P.; Lawson, D. W.; Sampson, J. A. Low Chronic Workload and the Acute:Chronic Workload Ratio Are More Predictive of Injury than between-Match Recovery Time: A Two-Season Prospective Cohort Study in Elite Rugby League Players. Br. J. Sports Med. 2016, 50 (16), 1008–1012.

(4)          Bowen, L.; Gross, A. S.; Gimpel, M.; Li, F.-X. Accumulated Workloads and the Acute:Chronic Workload Ratio Relate to Injury Risk in Elite Youth Football Players. Br. J. Sports Med. 2017, 51 (5), 452–459.

(5)          Duhig, S.; Shield, A. J.; Opar, D.; Gabbett, T. J.; Ferguson, C.; Williams, M. Effect of High-Speed Running on Hamstring Strain Injury Risk. Br. J. Sports Med. 2016, 50 (24), 1536–1540.

(6)          Buckthorpe, M.; Wright, S.; Bruce-Low, S.; Nanni, G.; Sturdy, T.; Gross, A. S.; Bowen, L.; Styles, B.; Della Villa, S.; Davison, M.; Gimpel, M. Recommendations for Hamstring Injury Prevention in Elite Football: Translating Research into Practice. Br. J. Sports Med. 2019, 53 (7), 449–456.

article author image
Nicolas Bourdillon
Chief Research Officer – PhD in Physiology