OBJECTIVES: To investigate the prevalence, incidence rate (IR) and burden of health problems (injuries and illnesses) in Australian Olympic class and State Sailing Pathway Program (SSPP) athletes over 12-months of training and competition.
DESIGN: Descriptive epidemiological study.
METHODS: Ninety-two Australian Sailing and SSPP athletes were prospectively followed during the 2019-2020 season. Medical attention injuries and illnesses were prospectively recorded, and further sub-categorised according to time loss. The IR and burden were calculated per 365 athlete-days, with differences in IR between sexes compared using negative binomial generated rate ratios.
RESULTS: Three hundred and forty-nine injuries were reported in 53 athletes (57.6 %), with 14.3 % resulting in time loss. Injury IR was 3.71 (95%CI = 3.33-4.12) injuries per 365 athlete-days, with no difference observed between sex (IRR = 1.64; 95%CI = 0.81-3.34). Shoulder injuries were found to have the greatest burden. Fifty-four illnesses were reported in 27 athletes (29.3 %), with 39.0 % resulting in time loss. Respiratory infection (n = 22, 40.7 %) was the most common illness reported. Illness IR was 0.57 (95%CI = 0.43-0.75) illnesses per 365 athlete days, with females found to have a 3.6 fold increase in illness compared to males (IRR = 3.6; 95%CI = 2.0-6.7).
CONCLUSIONS: The majority of health problems reported in sailing athletes did not result in time loss. There were no differences in the injury IR between sexes, however females had a 3.6-fold increase in reported illness. These results can inform future strategies to reduce key health problems in sailors. Future research investigating whether performance is impacted by the high rate of non-time loss health problems is warranted.