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Injuries in Norwegian female elite soccer: a prospective one-season cohort study

  • Sports Medicine
  • Published:
Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy Aims and scope


Female soccer has become increasingly popular during the last two decades. According to the International Football Association (FIFA) there are approximately 40 million registered female soccer players in the world. Three studies in elite soccer have shown an injury incidence during games ranging from 12.6 to 23.3 injuries per 1,000 h. A very high incidence of ACL-injuries ranging from 0.31 to 2.2 per 1,000 game hours has also been shown. We followed the Norwegian female elite series during the 2001 season to estimate the incidence and characteristics of injuries. A total of 181 female soccer players on ten teams were followed during the 2001 elite season in Norway. We recorded baseline data, match and training exposure and injury data as type of injury, location and severity of injury. The mean age of the players was 23 years (range 17–34). A total of 189 injuries were recorded and 19 (10%) of these were overuse injuries; 89 (47%) occurred during games and 100 (53%) during training sessions. The incidence of acute injuries was 23.6 per 1,000 game hours and 3.1 per 1,000 training hours. The majority of the injuries occurred in the lower extremities (81%), but there were also a significant number of head injuries (6.3%). The most common injury type was ankle sprain (17.2%). Half of the injuries were minor, with training or game absence of less than 7 days. Midfielders sustained the most injuries (32.6%) with an incidence of 42.4 per 1,000 game hours. We recorded two ACL-injuries and two PCL-injuries during the season. They all occurred during games, and the incidence was therefore calculated to 0.6 per 1,000 game hours for both injury types. The incidences of injuries reported for female soccer varies considerably, with the highest numbers reported from Germany and the present study. These studies have also the highest incidence of minor injuries registered. The location of the injuries is quite similar compared to other reports, but the number of ankle sprains seems to be higher in our study, whereas the number of knee and thigh injuries is lower. There has been much attention to ACL injuries in team handball and hamstring injuries in soccer in Norway, and this could have influenced the team’s pre-season training, resulting in a reduction in the incidence of these injury types. The high number of ankle injuries has to be addressed to see whether this is a result of inadequate rehabilitation routines leading to re-injuries, or other factors. The high number of ACL-injuries in these reports is alarming and needs special attention in the future.

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The Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center has been established at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences through generous grants from the Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority, the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Culture, the Norwegian Olympic Committee and Confederation of Sport, and Norsk Tipping.

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Correspondence to Agnar Tegnander.

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Tegnander, A., Olsen, O.E., Moholdt, T.T. et al. Injuries in Norwegian female elite soccer: a prospective one-season cohort study. Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthr 16, 194–198 (2008).

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