The study documents the effects of the coronavirus on the physique of athletes, even after negativeization
Covid 19, if contracted severely (not asymptomatic…), increases the risk of subsequent muscle injuries resulting in lengthening recovery times. This is the conclusion of the detailed and articulated study carried out by 15 of the 20 doctors of Serie A clubs who analyzed the data relating to the 2020-21 season, the first which began and ended during the pandemic period. The hypothesis of a potential correlation between the severity of the virus infection and the musculoskeletal injuries of athletes has now been demonstrated by the data: the higher the level of the Coronavirus infection was, the higher the risk factor for a stop related to muscle injuries.
The study, currently with the largest database in the world’s scientific literature relating to the topic, was promoted by the Italian Sports Medicine Federation (FMSI) and conducted by Dr. Alessandro Corsini thanks to the collaboration and data provided at the end of the 2020-21 season by three-quarters of the A clubs that participated in that tournament. The sample examined, therefore, was very large or 433 players to whom 173 Covid infections were recorded, classified according to severity. What is evident? Most importantly, after contracting the virus, the risk of injury increased significantly, by 36% to be exact. But also pay attention to recovery times: Covid positive players who needed pharmacological treatment (2nd and 3rd level of severity), almost doubled (+86%) the recovery time from subsequent muscle problems compared to the others soccer players. The more serious virus infections, precisely those of 2nd and 3rd level, have also caused an even higher frequency of injuries than those who have not contracted the disease (+69%), especially in the area of the muscle-tendon passage (+13.5%), the most feared site, in consideration of the longer healing times. Those who contracted the virus in a milder or even asymptomatic form, on the other hand, did not have a greater risk of muscle problems.
Criteria and numbers
Data collection was carried out from 22 August 2020 to 23 May 2021 in strictly anonymous form, i.e. with the identities of the players (who had given their consent in writing) and of the doctors encoded using randomly generated hash strings. The classification of the data took into account both the duration and severity of the Covid, but also the extent of the muscle injuries, which muscles were involved, whether the damage arrived in training or in the match, whether it was a first injury or of a relapse and how many days it took for a full return to activity. As mentioned, 173 (i.e. 39.9%) of the 433 players monitored contracted the virus: 11 of them (6.4%) with a severity of 3rd level, 84 (48.6%) with a severity of 2nd and 78 (45.1%) with a severity of 1°. On the other hand, there were 332 muscle injuries (104 occurred after a Covid infection, 228 not following the contraction of the virus) and concerned 204 players. Although Covid mainly affects the cardio-respiratory system, the infection can also affect muscle function. The hypothesis put forward in the study is that it alters the absorption and use of oxygen by the muscle, increasing muscular acidosis and causing greater fragility of muscle fibres. Inflammation due to the presence of the virus also seems to play an important role in altering the structural strength of the muscles.
An additional risk factor that appears to have played a role in the increase in injuries was the period of isolation following infection with Covid. The 14 days spent at home, in isolation, imposed by Italian law for positives may have represented another important risk factor for muscle injuries. This hypothesis is consistent with other studies showing that muscle detraining can rapidly induce some important physiological adaptations. In fact, some authors have demonstrated how, already only after a suspension of muscle activity between 14 and 23 days, the muscles and tendons of the knee can undergo functional damage, thus requiring a subsequent period of re-training. For team needs, however, most of the players, once recovered from Covid, were quickly reintegrated into the group, probably without adequate athletic reconditioning. This certainly exposed them to a greater risk of injury.
March 27, 2023 (change March 27, 2023 | 1:33 pm)
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