Double-jointed footballers have more injuries
The study, published in the American Journal of SportsMedicine, followed 54 players from a Premier League football team overthe course of one season. Of the players, 18 (a third of the group) werecategorised as hypermobile: a term used to describe a person with atleast four abnormally flexible joints (the knees or elbows can bendbackwards, the thumb can be flexed to touch the forearm, the littlefinger can bend backwards beyond 90 degrees or the palms can be placedon the floor without bending the knees.)
The researchers, including masters student Matt Konopinskiand Senior Lecturer Gareth Jones, found that, over the season, the 18hypermobile players suffered 72 injuries: a rate of 22 injuries forevery 1,000 hours of training and competition. By comparison, the 36players with less-flexible joints sustained a total of 61 injuries: arate of just over six injuries per 1,000 hours.
Hypermobile players were also found to be much more likely tosustain a severe injury and re-injury. Twelve of the 18 athletessuffered at least one severe injury during the season - often a ligamentor cartilage tear in the knee. This compared with only two of the 36non-hypermobile athletes.
Gareth explained: "Hypermobile joints lack passive stabilityand, as a consequence, they may be more vulnerable to injury. The kneeis especially vulnerable in football possibly due to the inherentdemands of the game. For people with hypermobile joints, ligaments andother structures in the knee may be less able to cope with the stressplaced on them. Exercises to boost strength, muscle control and balancemay reduce the risk of injury.
The findings suggest that hypermobility could be common infootball and the research team now hope to conduct a large scalemulti-site study in elite football.