Several authors have analyzed the incidence of injuries in team handball, but there is a lack of knowledge concerning professional handball and especially for men. The aim of this study is to review the literature and analyze the incidence, circumstances and characteristics of handball injuries in men’s elite handball.
A systematic search in PubMed is used. In general only results from men’s elite handball are included, but a few exceptions are made when it comes to studies where the results are not separated between the different groups. When comparing studies one must be aware that the definition of an injury might differ.
The highest incidence of injuries is reported in major international tournaments with 1.2-2.7 injuries/match and 89-129 injuries/1000 match hours. ACL injuries specifically have an incidence of 0.24±0.09 injuries/1000 match hours. About 40% of all injuries that need medical treatment are caused by overuse and the most common locations are the shoulder and knee. Some studies have showed that up to 30% of all injuries were classified as major with a time loss over 28 days.
There is a larger risk of sustaining an injury during matches than training and there are more injuries as the performance level increases. However, more research is needed in elite male handball and especially concerning overuse injuries and injuries to the head. With sufficient information about the total burden, injury types and mechanisms, it has been shown that prevention programs based on this information can reduce the injury incidence.