Risk Factors for Shoulder Injuries in Water Polo: a Cohort Study

Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2021 Aug 1;16(4):1135-1144. doi: 10.26603/001c.25432. eCollection 2021.


BACKGROUND: Very limited investigations have been conducted exploring risk factors for injury in water polo players. A gap remains in the literature regarding identification of variables that should be considered as part of player screening evaluations.

PURPOSE: To estimate whether previous injury, changes in strength, range of motion (ROM) or upward scapular rotation (UR) are related to shoulder injuries in water polo players.

STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive cohort study.

METHODS: Thirty-nine international-level players participated (19 males). Shoulder internal (IR) and external rotation (ER) peak torque was measured using an isokinetic device (CONtrex MJ). Shoulder ROM was measured passively using standard goniometry. Scapular UR was measured using a laser digital inclinometer. At baseline players were divided into groups: those with and without previous shoulder injuries. Independent t-tests and Mann-Whitney U tests were used to compare the study variables between groups. After nine months, a second analysis compared the same athletes, who were then grouped by those who had or had not sustained new injuries. Effect sizes were calculated with a Hedge’s g. Chi squared analysis compared proportion of injured players with and without previous injury.

RESULTS: Eighteen participants (46%) had previous injuries at baseline. Players with a previous injury showed higher peak torques for IR (0.62±0.15 vs 0.54±0.13N/kg, p=0.04, g=0.60); larger loss of IR ROM (9.9±9.1 vs 4.1±7.5°, p=0.04, g=0.68), but no statistical difference in UR (p=0.70). After nine months, there were no statistical strength differences between groups. Loss of IR ROM was significantly higher in the injured group (9.8±9.8 vs 4.0±6.7°, p=0.04, g=0.68), as well as UR (13.0±3.0 vs 10.4±3.3°, p=0.01, g=0.81). History of previous injury was significantly related to developing a new injury (OR 6.5, p=0.02). Logistic regression found previous injury and UR most important contributors to injury risk.

CONCLUSIONS: Previous injury, changes in IR ROM and UR are related to new shoulder injuries in water polo, but further variables such as rest, training load, or psychosocial factors may explain the incidence of new injuries.


PMID:34386291 | PMC:PMC8329310 | DOI:10.26603/001c.25432

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