Days between matches: how should they affect your training and prevent injuries
In professional football, load management and periodization strategies play a crucial role both in performance and injury prevention. Not surprisingly, periods of increased fixture congestion are associated with a higher injury risk (Begtsson et al., 2013, Carling et al., 2016). Managing the load during the week will not only provide an optimum load stimulus to football players as will ensure a proper recovery from match and training load aiming the following match.
At Football Medicine® we consider load management, in agreement to what recent evidence has been supporting in football codes, to be a determinant variable regarding injury prevention (Bowen et al., 2016). Abrupt peaks in load, leading to sudden changes in acute:chronic ratios (Blanch and Gabbett, 2015; Hulin et al., 2016; Murray et al., 2016) or a deficient recovery from matches or in the days preceding a match may lead to negative adaptations increasing the likelihood of sustaining an injury. In the latter, peripheral but particularly delayed central fatigue effects resulting from games constitute one of our main concerns regarding injury prevention, as they can mislead both players and coaches regarding their own readiness to train efficiently (Thomas et al., 2017). For this reason we present our Football Medicine® suggestion regarding load and training for different weekly examples concerning interval of days between matches (6, 5, 4, 3 and 2):
TRAINING PERIODIZATION AND INJURY PREVENTION – MODEL A
TRAINING PERIODIZATION AND INJURY PREVENTION – MODEL B
This suggestion is for now referent only to the players that are involved in competition, with two different suggested models (Model A and B), with the management of remaining players left as a subject of future topics. It includes not only a suggestion to training related contents as usually measured by GPS systems, as also includes recommendations for S&C programs.
Our aims at Football Medicine® is that this might be a useful guideline to be used in professional football, but also to promote an open debate in this topic, as we believe other professionals may have a different perspective which could help this field of discussion moving forward.
Click here to download the pdf: 2 models for TRAINING PERIODIZATION AND INJURY PREVENTION – A Football Medicine® Perspective
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Bengtsson H, Ekstrand J, Hägglund M (2013). Muscle injury rates in professional football increase with fixture congestion: an 11-year follow-up of the UEFA Champions League injury study. Br J Sports Med, 47 (12):743-7.
Bowen L, Gross AS, Gimpel M, Li FX (2016). Accumulated workloads and the acute:chronic workload ratio relate to injury risk in elite youth football players. Br J Sports Med, doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2015-095820. [Epub ahead of print].
Blanch P, Gabbett TJ (2015). Has the athlete trained enough to return to play safely? The acute: chronic workload ratio permits clinicians to quantify a player’s risk of subsequent injury. Br J Sports Med, 50(8):471-5.
Carling C, McCall A, Le Gall F, Dupont G (2016). The impact of short periods of match congestion on injury risk and patterns in an elite football club. Br J Sports Med, 50(12):764-8.
Hulin BT, Gabbett TJ, Caputi P, Lawson DW, Sampson JA (2016). 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, 50: 231–236.
Murray NB, Gabbett TJ, Townshend AD, Hulin BT, McLellan CP (2016). Individual and combined effects of acute and chronic running loads on injury risk in elite Australian footballers. Scand J Med Sci Sports, doi: 10.1111/sms.12719. [Epub ahead of print].
Thomas K, Dent J, Howatson G, Stuart Goodall (2017). Etiology and recovery of neuromuscular fatigue following simulated soccer match-play. Med Sci Sports Exerc. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001196. [Epub ahead of print]