Aerobic Fitness and Playing Experience Protect Against Spikes in Workload: The Role of the Acute:Chronic Workload Ratio on Injury Risk in Elite Gaelic Football.

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Malone, S ; Roe, M ; Doran, DA ; Gabbett, TJ ; Collins, KD
  • Publisher: Human Kinetics
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1123/ijspp.2016-0090
  • Subject: RC1200
    mesheuropmc: education | health care economics and organizations

PURPOSE: To examine the association between combined session-RPE workload measures and injury risk in elite Gaelic footballers. METHODS: Thirty-seven elite Gaelic footballers (mean ± SD age of 24.2 ± 2.9 yr) from one elite squad were involved in a single season study. Weekly workload (session-RPE multiplied by duration) and all time-loss injuries (including subsequent week injuries) were recorded during the period. Rolling weekly sums and week-to-week changes in workload were measured, allowing for the calculation of the 'acute:chronic workload ratio' that was calculated by dividing acute workload (i.e. 1-week workload) by chronic workload (i.e. rolling average 4-weekly workload). Workload measures were then modelled against all injury data sustained using a logistic regression model. Odds ratios (OR) were reported against a reference group. RESULTS: High 1-weekly workloads (≥2770 AU, OR = 1.63 - 6.75) were associated with significantly higher risk of injury compared to a low training load reference group (<1250 AU). When exposed to spikes in workload (acute:chronic workload ratio >1.5), players with 1 year experience had a higher risk of injury (OR = 2.22) and players with 2-3 (OR = 0.20) and 4-6 years (OR = 0.24) of experience had a lower risk of injury. Players with poorer aerobic fitness (estimated from a 1 km time trial) had a higher injury risk compared to players with higher aerobic fitness (OR = 1.50-2.50). An acute:chronic workload ratio of (≥2.0) demonstrated the greatest risk of injury. CONCLUSIONS: These findings highlight an increased risk of injury for elite Gaelic football players with high (>2.0) acute:chronic workload ratios and high weekly workloads. A high aerobic capacity and playing experience appears to offer injury protection against rapid changes in workload and high acute:chronic workload ratios. Moderate workloads, coupled with moderate-high changes in the acute:chronic workload ratio appear to be protective for Gaelic football players.
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