Player Wellness (Soreness and Stress) and Injury in Elite Junior Australian Football Players Over 1 Season

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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Purpose: To investigate the association between player wellness and injury in elite junior Australian football players over 1 competitive season. Methods: Prospective cohort study. Elite junior Australian football players (N = 196, average age = 17.7 y, range = 16–18 y) were recruited in the under-18 state league competition in Victoria, Australia. They recorded their wellness (sleep, fatigue, soreness, stress, and mood) according to a 5-point Likert scale 3 times weekly, with injuries (missed match/training session) entered into an online sport-injury surveillance system. A logistic generalized estimating equation was used to examine the association (expressed as odds ratio [OR]) between wellness and injury (yes/no). Results: Soreness was associated with injury at each time point across the week, with the strongest association evident for soreness reported 6 d postmatch (OR = 1.30; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.17–1.44; P < .001). Stress and injury were associated with injury for average stress values across the week, as well as specifically on day 1 postmatch (OR = 1.10; 95% CI, 1.01–1.21; P = .038). Mood reported in the middle of the week (3 d postmatch) was associated with injury (OR = 0.87; 95% CI, 0.78–0.97; P = .014), as was fatigue (OR = 1.10; 95% CI, 1.00–1.22; P = .044). Conclusions: This study demonstrates key associations between wellness and injury in elite junior Australian football, specifically soreness, stress, fatigue, and mood. Monitoring strategies help identify injury-risk profiles, which can help decision makers (coaches or medical staff) intervene when relevant to reduce injury risk.

Lathlean is with the Discipline of Exercise and Sports Science, School of Science and Technology, University of New England, Armidale, NSW, Australia. Gastin is with the Dept of Dietetics, Human Nutrition and Sport, La Trobe University, Bundoora, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. Newstead is with the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), Monash University, Clayton, VIC, Australia. Finch is with the Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP), Edith Cowan University, Perth, WA, Australia.

Lathlean (tim.lathlean@une.edu.au) is corresponding author.
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