We all know injuries are bad news in all sports, but in football an injury can have particularly far-reaching effects which is why surveillance and screening programmes are essential. Not only does an injury have an adverse affect on the player, causing a range of emotional responses that can then unmask other more serious mental health issues (see the ‘Related content’ box) but just as importantly, if the athlete is a team player which footballers obviously are, the consequences can and do escalate to affect the whole team and, even worse, its performance (1). Our job as physical therapists is to do our utmost to ensure injuries don’t happen on our watch and one of the most powerful tools we have in our armoury for achieving this is injury screening and injury surveillance. This article reviews the evidence supporting the importance of surveillance and screening programmes in football, outlines some of the evidence-based screening tests, and offers some practical steps on constructing a programme, as well as enhancing or developing an existing one. And if you have ‘seniors’ who don’t yet appreciate the significance of this area of medical care, we will also arm you with some excellent research to help you support and justify the need to implement a surveillance and screening programme for your team.
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David studied Sports Rehabilitation at the University of Salford and has worked in professional football since graduating in 2011. In that time he has worked closely with youth team, first team and international-level players, in both domestic and European competition. He is qualified to undertake the functional movement screen. He is a certified Matwork Pilates instructor with the Australian Physiotherapy & Pilates Institute. He has a special interest in injury prevention and the role it can play in enhancing and prolonging an athlete’s career. He will be beginning a Masters degree in Strength & Conditioning at the University of Salford in 2016.
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