Neuromuscular warm-ups in youth soccer may help prevent injuries, cut health-care costs

Researchers at the University of Calgary say injury prevention programs in youth soccer keep more kids in the sport and cut health-care costs.

University of Calgary researchers say neuromuscular training warm-ups lead to 38% lower injury rate

New warm-ups help curb injuries in youth soccer

7 years ago
Duration 1:49
The University of Calgary has been working on a new series of neuromuscular exercises to prevent injuries for young soccer players and keep them in the game.

Researchers at the University of Calgary say injury prevention programs in youth soccer keep more kids in the sport and cut health-care costs, to boot.

Sports account for more than 30 per cent of all injuries in young people but a neuromuscular training warm-up program might help reverse that trend, concludes the study published in the latest issue of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

"What we were able to show was a significant health-care cost savings," said the paper's senior author, Carolyn Emery with the Faculty of Kinesiology.

Carolyn Emery of the Unversity of Calgary's kinesiology department says reducing injury in sport programs will help keep children from giving up on the games. (CBC)

The researchers studied male and female soccer players between the ages of 13 and 18.

One group was given a neuromuscular training warm-up program, which included several different exercises including aerobic, strength, agility and balance components, plus a home-based balance training regime.

The other group stuck with a standard practice warm-up routine of aerobics and stretching.

"We found that the neuromuscular training prevention group had a 38 per cent reduction in injury rate, and at the same time, health care costs were reduced by 43 per cent," said Deborah Marshall of the Cumming School of Medicine.

"Projecting the results provincially, implementing a neuromuscular training prevention program would save $2.7 million in one season of soccer." 

'You just feel loose'

Emma Schneider, 13, said the enhanced warm-up program makes her feel more in control of her limbs.

Thirteen-year-old soccer player Emma Schneider says the neuromuscular training warm-up program helps her feel more in control of her limbs. (CBC)

"You really just feel loose and ready to go," she said.

Emery said the study also demonstrated that children are more likely to drop out of organized sports when they get injured, a trend that leads in the long run to more weight problems, depression and even early-onset osteoarthritis.

The researchers are aiming to reduce the risk of injury in youth sport and recreation by 20 per cent by 2020.

They are already working closely with community partners, local and national soccer associations, educators, as well as FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) to come up with a strategy to roll out and evaluate neuromuscular training programs.

New research shows neuromuscular warm-ups for soccer athletes can cut health-care costs. (CBC)