Injury Surveillance in Elite New Zealand Track Cyclists

Barron, Helene
Reid, Duncan
Hamilton, Bruce
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Master of Health Science
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Auckland University of Technology

Introduction: Injury surveillance is an essential component of elite sport. Little data is available on injury rates in track cyclists, with the majority of cycling research focussed on road cycling, and suggesting cyclists are at highest risk of overuse knee, back and neck injuries, and acute injuries involving the shoulder/clavicle, lower back and knee.

Purpose: This research aims to establish the baseline incidence and prevalence of injury, and its effect on training and competition for elite New Zealand track-cyclists.

Methods: All members of Cycling New Zealand’s elite track squad were invited to take part in this prospective, longitudinal study. Participants completed two baseline questionnaires detailing current and past injury status, current training volume, and other baseline characteristics. They then completed an online self-reporting injury survey every week for 52 consecutive weeks in the form of the Programme for Injury and Illness Surveillance (PILLS) tool. Injuries were classified using the OSICS-10 classification system. Key outcome measures were injury incidence and prevalence. Also recorded were self-reported measures of training exposures and intensity, injury classification, treatment received, duration of injury and where (geographical location) the injury occurred. Comparison of participant and therapist injury classification were made, and all outcome measures were calculated for the squad as a whole, as well as with breakdown for gender and squad.

Results: Data were collected from 33 members of the elite NZ track cycling squad, comprising 17 males (17-32 years - mean 22.71, SD: 4.45), and 16 females (17-31 years - mean 21.5 years, SD: 4.82). 21 of the 33 participants sustained an injury during the period of inclusion in the study. Four reported injuring multiple body sites at one time, with one participant reporting two multi-site incidents during the period of data collection. 13 participants sustained multiple injuries, and 12 reported no incidence of injury. 11 injuries occurred in sports specific training, 20 in the gym, six in competition and seven other (mean 11, SD 6.38). 82% of injuries were recorded as being acute, 18% recurrent, with no overuse injuries reported. 8962 training exposures were planned (mean 689 exposures per four-weeks, SD 142), with 60 sessions (0.67%) missed and 84 (0.94%) modified due to injury, totalling 144/8962 (1.6%) training exposures affected by injury (mean 11.1, SD 7) per four-week block of surveys. Injury Incidence was 4.9 injuries per 1000 training and competition exposures. For all injuries sustained (53 body parts injured from 44 events), the injury incidence was 5.9 per 1000 exposures. Point prevalence ranged from one injury per four-week block to seven (mean 3.38, SD 1.80). No significant relationships were found between squad, gender, previous injury, years in sport, new injuries or injury frequency, or number of treatments.

Conclusion: This research provides the first descriptive injury profile for the elite New Zealand track cycling cohort. 64% of participants sustained an injury over the study period, however injury incidence and prevalence was low with rapid return to training and competition. Greatest number of injuries was seen in the lower back, hip/buttock/pelvis region, and the knee, possibly reflecting the biomechanical requirements of cycling and the nature of the training required for this cohort. Previous studies investigating road cycling describe similar body sites injured, but with a large proportion classified as overuse whereas no overuse injuries were self-reported in this study. Further research is required to determine any reason for this. Total training exposures were recorded however little detail was documented on the intensity, nature and load of each specific training session and warrants more detailed investigation through future research.

Track cycling , Injury surveillance , Elite sport , Injury incidence
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