FIFA and DFB wish to also protect veteran footballers from injury

Can the “11+” warm-up programme help to also protect veteran players from injury? That question is currently the subject of a study by the Institute for Sport and Preventive Medicine at the University of Saarland, a FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence since 2009.

Until now, the “11+” warm-up programme devised by the FIFA Medical Assessment and Research Centre (F-MARC) has only been tested on younger age categories, who have different injury patterns.

Therefore, the institute, which is led by German national football team doctor Prof. Tim Meyer, is now conducting a major study in order to ascertain whether regularly performing these warm-up exercises prior to training sessions could also reduce veteran footballers’ risk of injury.

In an ageing society such as ours, this study bears great significance.
Prof. Tim Meyer, German national football team doctor

“We want to follow 20 veterans’ teams over the course of a year and document all injuries sustained by them over that period in line with F-MARC's protocol,” explained Prof. Meyer.

In order to determine whether the warm-up exercises are also beneficial for veteran footballers, there has to be a direct comparison with players who do not use the “11+” programme in their training.

Therefore, of these 20 teams, who should all be as active as possible in football, half will regularly perform the “11+” exercises prior to their training sessions, with the other half acting as a control group by only doing their usual training.

Study 'makes sense'
All injuries sustained by these 20 teams during the test phase will be carefully documented, which, in a year’s time, will allow the scientists to say with certainty whether “11+” also has a significant effect on reducing the risk of injury for veterans. This study will complement those that have already been conducted as part of F-MARC’s Football for Health programme.

“In an ageing society such as ours, this study bears great significance. Many players are now actively playing football to an advanced age, so it clearly makes sense for us to take more of a sports-medical interest in these athletes,” says Prof. Meyer about the benefits of this scientific study.

The study will be financed in equal parts by FIFA and the German Football Association (DFB), which is a whole new approach in the research sector. The co-financing of this project will give the DFB and FIFA the perfect opportunity to combine their efforts to promote football as a health-enhancing leisure activity for people of all ages.