This study, conducted by the new FIFA Medical Centre of Excellence at the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Centre in Norway and published today in the distinguished British Medical Journal, showed that the '11+' warm-up reduced total injuries by a third and severe injuries by almost a half.
"The '11+' programme should be implemented as a key element of football training. In fact, every coach and team physician needs to be aware of its positive effects and results," said Prof. Jiri Dvorak, chairman of F-MARC.
The '11+' programme combines warm-up exercises from two previously successful prevention programmes - the 'F-MARC 11' and 'PEP' - and consists of a combination of slow and speed running, as well as exercises to improve strength, balance, muscle control and core stability.
More than 1,890 female footballers aged between 13 and 17 participated in this study. The players were randomly assigned to two groups, only one of which regularly performed the 20-minute '11+' warm-up programme, which can easily be incorporated into training routines.
"The outcome of this top-class research has been excellent - even more so because not every team in the study regularly performed the '11+' as had been recommended. The results might be even better if compliance could be further optimised: the higher the compliance, the fewer injuries occur," said Prof. Dvorak.
Although specifically developed for football, the '11+' study has already attracted the attention of other sports. In his editorial in the British Medical Journal, John Brooks, an injury expert for the Rugby Football Union, states that this warm-up programme should be adopted at all levels in all sports.
"The football family has a unique tool at its disposal that has proven to be effective in protecting players from injury, and is much sought after by other sports. Now we need to use it consistently," added Prof. Dvorak. F-MARC will conduct a study with 'The 11+' in male youth players in 2009 and 2010.
The FIFA Medical Committee has been active in sports medicine since the mid-1970s. F-MARC was established in 1994 and has since contributed regularly to the continuously growing wealth of knowledge within football medicine. Prevention and education are key aspects of the FIFA Medical Committee and F-MARC's strategy to protect players' health.