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LaLiga Lockdown: Conditioning Strategy and Adaptation to In-Game Regulations during COVID-19 Pandemic Prevented an Increase in Injury Incidence

Authors

Víctor Moreno-Pérez, Jon Patricios, Narciso Amigo de Bonet, Miguel Ángel Buil, Josu Díaz de Alda, Andrés Fernández-Posada, Oliver Gonzalo-Skok, Sergio Jiménez-Rubio, Alberto Lam, Josean Lekue, Roberto López-Del Campo, Alejandro López-Valenciano, Gil Rodas, José Romero-Sangüesa, Xabier Valencia-Murua, Xavier Yanguas-Leyes, José Conde, Juan Del Coso

ABSTRACT

The first division of Spanish professional football (LaLiga) was suspended for 12 weeks as part of the policies enforced by health authorities during the first wave of COVID-19. During this period, players were confined to home for 8 weeks, followed by a club-based retraining period of 4 weeks. Afterwards, LaLiga’s teams completed 11 matches, with approximately 3 days of recovery between matches, to finish the competition. The aim of this investigation was to determine whether there is a difference in mean injury incidence in LaLiga players between the pre-lockdown period and post-lockdown period. A total of 277 players belonging to 11 teams competing in LaLiga were monitored during the 2019–2020 season. Injury incidence in the 27 matchdays completed before the lockdown was compared to the last 11 matchdays completed after the resumption of the competition. In comparison to the period before the suspension, the resumption of the championship did not significantly affect the injury incidence (4.2 vs. 5.4 injuries per 1000 h of exposure, p = 0.338). Injury incidence before suspension and after resumption of the competition was similar for muscle (2.6 vs. 3.4 injuries per 1000 h of exposure, p = 0.152) and ligament injuries (0.8 vs. 0.4 injuries per 1000 h of exposure, p = 0.062). The resumption of the competition also did not modify the distribution of injury according to body location (p = 0.948), injury type (p = 0.766), mode of onset (p = 0.614), severity (p = 0.065), or player position (p = 0.295). In summary, mean injury incidence in LaLiga players was similar before and after the lockdown. It is probable that the conditioning strategy adopted by clubs before the resumption of LaLiga and the adaptation of some in-game regulations helped to avoid an increased injury rate after the lockdown.

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