What are the numbers?
The number of muscle injuries suffered by Premier League players has increased dramatically in comparison to the opening stages of the previous three campaigns.
According to Premier Injuries, there have been 78 incidents of Premier League players suffering muscle injuries so far this season, across all competitions. This includes injuries such as muscle pulls, tweaks, tightness, strains and similar issues but does not cover player absences associated with fatigue or direct impact.
At the same stage in the 2018-19 season, there were 55 reported muscle injuries, 34 in 2017-18 and 47 in 2016-17.
This makes for a 42 per cent increase in muscle injuries compared to last season, while there are more than double the number of muscle injuries at this stage than in 2017-18. Evidence for the first five weeks of the season suggests there is a high chance the 2020-21 campaign will be the worst recorded season for muscle injuries.
Why is this the case?
The shortened pre-season following ‘Project Restart’ and a congested schedule are likely contributing factors to the escalation in muscle injuries.
Speaking to The Athletic, Dr. Joel Mason, a sports scientist at the University of Jena in Germany, emphasised how the unique nature of this season means teams have struggled to manage hamstring strength, a proven protector against muscle injuries.
“Ambitious teams may have escalated physical load too rapidly, whereas other clubs may have sacrificed some of their usual physical fitness training in order to prioritise football-specific sessions, perhaps feeling a sense of urgency