How does analysis in sport help prevent injury?
Injury in sport
Injury is prevalent in sport, especially competitive sports where players are highly trained, highly competitive and are prone to pushing that extra bit further. Once injured, athletes can take a long time to heal and to recover to full health.
This means clubs are paying for injured players and their replacements costing hundreds of millions of pounds a year. Not all athletes fully recover, some spiral into a cycle of injury and recovery until they can no longer play.
In the UK, 2016, football scored the highest percentage of injury rates with 18.9% recorded injuries being football related. Next came running at 9.4% followed by ruby at 4.9%.
Injuries to rugby players have almost doubled in the last five years and research has found that professional football players are likely to suffer from serious physical conditions such as arthritis later in life.
According to the Oxford Acedemic (British Medical Bullitin):
Sports injuries commonly affects joints of the extremities (knee, ankle, hip, shoulder, elbow, wrist) or the spine. Knee injuries are among the most common. Ankle injuries constitute 21% of all sports injuries. Ankle ligament injuries are more commonly (83%) diagnosed as ligament sprains (incomplete tears), and are common in sports such as basketball and volleyball. Ankle injuries occur usually during competition and in the majority of cases, athletes can return to sports within a week. Hip labral injuries have drawn attention in recent years with the advent of hip arthroscopy. Upper extremity syndromes caused by a single stress or by repetitive microtrauma occur in a variety of sports. Overhead throwing, long-distance swimming, bowling, golf, gymnastics, basketball, volleyball and field events can repetitively stress the hand, wrist, elbow and shoulder.
Shoulder and elbow problems are common in the overhead throwing athlete whereas elbow injuries remain often unrecognised in certain sports. Hand and wrist trauma accounts for 3–9% of all athletic injuries. Wrist trauma can affect the triangular fibrocartilage complex47 or cause scaphoid fractures, whereas overuse problems (e.g. tenosynovitis) are not uncommon. Spinal problems can range from lumbar disc herniation, to fatigue fractures of the pars interarticularis, and ‘catastrophic’ cervical spine injuries.
In rugby muscular, ligament, knee, hips and thigh damage accounted for almost half of the injuries; most of which were sustained as a result of a tackle. Techniques used by athletes and players to sprint, kick and change direction are contributing factors in sustaining injuries.
What’s the answer?
Aside from not participating in sports there is no complete answer; players get tackled, they crash into each other, they trip and accidents happen.
However, coaches are finding measurable benefits using performance analysis (match tagging) and GPS analysis which use wearable technology such as GPS devices as a method in spotting injury prone behaviours and correcting bad techniques before they create serious problems.
Performance analysis (match tagging)
Performance analysis, or match tagging, is a proven, effective method which helps coaches hone in on team and player techniques. Having the ability to watch players in slow motion video and to be able to tag their movements and techniques helps coaches to understand repetitive actions of poor technique. If not corrected, injuries caused by bad technique can be exacerbated and can lead to more serious conditions, a decline in performance levels, prevent optimum strength, power and speed.
Using GPS analysis and wearing GPS devices during training sessions and in matches produces invaluable, personal performance metrics for players. Regular use of GPS devices builds a passport of the player’s performances and fitness levels. Comparing this data over time makes it very easy to see if they are over training, tired and need to rest.
Coaches can also look at metrics like acceleration and deceleration; if an athlete sprints and decelerates very quickly repeatedly they are more likely to suffer the effects of fatigue and possible knee injury.
Concussion remains the most common injury in English professional rugby. Being able to record and monitor impact data for players gives coaches valuable insights into which of their athletes are likely to have concussion and to be able to take appropriate action.
Although there is no full proof way of preventing players from suffering injury we now have the technology to spot and correct bad techniques which is one of the greatest causes of injury. We can also accurately record and monitor individual performances of each player giving insights into predicting fatigue and injury.
Anadi James Taylor
CEO - iSportsAnalysis Ltd
I am expert in helping sports clubs and universities with their Sports Video Analysis and their GPS Performance Analysis.
I developed iSportsAnalysis.com with top sports scientists, coaches and trainers to help maximise training gains and to optimise the performance of athletes and teams.
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