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Athletes evaluation and the weakness of the science of fitness testing in the prevention of injuries

Athletes evaluation and the weakness of the science of fitness testing in the prevention of injuries

Advances in science have shaped themselves for new needs: anaerobic endurance – with low amounts of oxygen, in muscle blast exercises

The year was 1958. The month is April. In the countryside, between the Cerrado and the Atlantic Forest, the players of the Brazilian national team were jogging while doing gymnastics. They trained in the long jump and groups in focus at Poços de Caldas.

The team, which was preparing for the Swedish Cup, was taking its first steps in what would be a great football revolution. Physical training was responsible for a strong, fat and genius man: Paulo Amaral, the team’s first physical coach. Amid loud cries of “one, two, one two,” Amaral helped shape the tone of this team and, sure enough, gave the necessary consistency to Pele and Garrincha.

For the first time, physical preparation entered the field as a science until then, the physical issue was seen as important, but the teams usually did not have a designated coach, and often conducted trial training, even on the basis of the use of dumbbells or wrestling. Football was flirting with amateurs, with the streets swaying and bluffing.

Since then, the search for better physical conditioning has begun to move towards a specific segment of clubs. Since then, a lot has changed and today, once again, the eyes in football are focused on physical preparation, which has taken the sport to difficult conditions, such as the excessive muscle injuries that have carried athletes of any age from matches. Decisive.


The selection crowned in 1970 this philosophy, already based on new methods that emerged, such as those of the American physician Kenneth H. Cooper. In 1968, the famous Cooper test was presented to the US Armed Forces, which was carried out in Brazil by Claudio Coutinho. The Cooper test analyzed the athlete’s cardiorespiratory capacity after they had covered a distance in 12 minutes, which could be valid for running or walking.

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Dr. Edilson Thiel, member of the CBF Medical Committee and Medical Director of Athletico-PR until 2011 says:

Physical preparation was driving change in football itself. The match was gaining more and more intensity. At this increasing pace, the advances of science are shaped to support a new need: anaerobic endurance – with low amounts of oxygen, in muscle blast exercises.

The increase in speed narrowed the distances, and in these short competitive moves, muscle strain and injuries became a risk. The need to determine the reactions of each athlete in the tests was born. The setup has become much more detailed and unique, even considering the location of each one in the field.

“The game got more intense, so strength became an important asset,” Thiel says. “Measuring workloads is critical.”

This new context brought what is called total football. The harbinger of this was Rinus Michaels at the 1974 World Cup, where Paulo Amaral himself, as Zagallo’s observer, was tasked with reporting on the Netherlands in the match against Argentina (Netherlands win 4-0). Amaral was puzzled. “I saw the right-back on the left wing, the left-back in the midfield, Cruyff in defense, and suddenly in the attack and then in the middle,” he said.

The medical department and physical preparation became crucial to the game plan. All this for the sake of a simple goal: the player could not develop muscle discomfort or poor physical preparation, as was the case in national football.

The physical part was associated with the concepts of the game, in a form that blends movements, speed and precise technique. Supplemental preparation is no longer necessary.

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“The training and preparation of athletes a few decades ago was commensurate with what the sport required. It is known that football has evolved in terms of physical demand. Before that, a player ran, on average, 6 or 7 kilometers per game. 12 km / game. The number of sprints has doubled,” explains Sergio Freire Jr., who, in addition to being the medical officer for Belo Horizonte headquarters at the 2014 World Cup, 2016 Olympics and 2019 Copa America, served until 2018 as a cruise doctor.

Viva Medical

An Ally for Players in the Fight for Physical Preservation created by FIFA Medical and Research Center (F-MARC). The method started like FIFA 11 for amateurs. In 2006, she’s 11+, and she’s aimed at professionals.

The goal is to reduce injuries, through a heating process that replaces the traditional method. Various resources are used, such as instrumentation technologies (thermal imaging); biochemical tests (CK enzyme, PCR); recovery device (physiotherapy); human resources for training and recovery (recovery); Sleep analysis, care and nutrition monitoring. Based on the analyses, the coach evaluates whether the player’s range will be expanded or not.

The epidemic contributes

A study with the participation of the Brazilian Football Confederation, authored by physicians Gabriel Forlan-Margato, Edelson Ferreira Andrade, Paulo Henrique Schmidt-Lara, Jorge Roberto Bajora, Moises Cohen and Gustavo Gonçalves Arliani, revealed a trend towards a decrease in muscle injuries in Brazilian football between 2016 and 2018. The total number of infections reached 577 over the three seasons, with a gradual decrease in infection observed: 219 in 2016, 195 in 2017, and 163 in 2018.

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As one of the consequences of the epidemic, doctors are convinced that the number of infections has increased from 2019 on, and the main reason is the excessive number of games. Clubs such as Flamengo, Palmeiras and Sao Paulo already have more than 50 cases of injury in their athletes. “The year 2020 is practically revised in 2021. The increase in the number of games, as well as other issues, such as positions at the table, and the lack of time for training and recovery, are factors that have contributed to the increase in injuries,” says physiologist Reinaldo Dantas Queiroz, of Unifesp.

“A previous injury is the biggest risk factor for another injury in the same location,” confirms Andre Pedrinelli, a member of the HC Sports Medicine Group, who was previously a Palmeiras physician.

Excessive gaming leads to more wear and tear on the muscles, causing bruising. For this reason, the National Professional Footballers Association has worked to force players to leave from December 10 to January 8, allowing for a pre-season before the start of regional competitions in 2022, on January 26. Recovery time is part of the process. Scientific progress in football. But the rest will always be human.

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