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Injury Pattern in Icelandic Elite Male Handball Players

Rafnsson, Elis Thor PT, MSc*,†; Valdimarsson, Örnólfur MD, PhD; Sveinsson, Thorarinn PhD*; Árnason, Árni PT, PhD*,‡

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: May 2019 - Volume 29 - Issue 3 - p 232–237
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000499
Original Research

Objective: To examine the incidence, type, location, and severity of injuries in Icelandic elite male handball players and compare across factors like physical characteristics and playing position.

Design: Prospective cohort study.

Setting: The latter part of the preseason and the competitive season of Icelandic male handball.

Participants: Eleven handball teams (185 players) from the 2 highest divisions in Iceland participated in the study. Six teams (109 players) completed the study.

Variables Measured: Injuries were recorded by the players under supervision from their team physiotherapists or coaches. Coaches recorded training exposure, and match exposure was obtained from the Icelandic and European Handball Federations. The players directly recorded potential risk factors, such as age, height, weight, previous injuries, and player position.

Main Outcome Measures: Injury incidence and injury location and number of injury days.

Results: Recorded time-loss injuries were 86, of which 53 (62%) were acute and 33 (38%) were due to overuse. The incidence of acute injuries was 15.0 injuries/1000 hours during games and 1.1 injuries/1000 hours during training sessions. No significant difference was found in injury incidence between teams, but number of injury days did differ between teams (P = 0.0006). Acute injuries were most common in knees (26%), ankles (19%), and feet/toes (17%), but overuse injuries occurred in low back/pelvic region (39%), shoulders (21%), and knees (21%). Previous knee injuries were the only potential risk factor found for knee injury.

Conclusions: The results indicate a higher rate of overuse injuries in low back/pelvic region and shoulders than in comparable studies.

*Research Centre of Movement Science, Department of Physiotherapy, School of Health Sciences, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland;

Orkuhusid, Physiotherapy and Medical Centre, Reykjavik, Iceland; and

Gáski Physiotherapy, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Corresponding Author: Árni Árnason, PT, PhD, Research Centre of Movement Science, Department of Physiotherapy, School of Health Sciences, University of Iceland, IS-101 Reykjavik, Iceland (

Supported by The Icelandic Physiotherapy Association, The National Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland and The University of Iceland.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received March 07, 2017

Accepted July 06, 2017

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