Training load and injury risk in elite Rugby Union: The largest investigation to date

Stephen West, Sean Williams, Dario Cazzola, Matthew Cross, Simon Kemp, Keith Stokes

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Abstract

Training load monitoring has grown in recent years with the acute:chronic workload ratio (ACWR) widely used to aggregate data to inform decision-making on injury risk. Several methods have been described to calculate the ACWR and numerous methodological issues have been raised. Therefore, this study examined the relationship between the ACWR and injury in a sample of 696 players from 13 professional rugby clubs over two seasons for 1718 injuries of all types and a further analysis of 383 soft tissue injuries specifically. Of the 192 comparisons undertaken for both injury groups, 40% (all injury) and 31% (soft tissue injury) were significant. Furthermore, there appeared to be no calculation method that consistently demonstrated a relationship with injury. Some calculation methods supported previous work for a “sweet spot” in injury risk, while a substantial number of methods displayed no such relationship. This study is the largest to date to have investigated the relationship between the ACWR and injury risk and demonstrates that there appears to be no consistent association between the two. This suggests that alternative methods of training load aggregation may provide more useful information, but these should be considered in the wider context of other established risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Medicine
Early online date8 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Dec 2020

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