Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center

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Information about project titled 'Risk factors for overuse shoulder injuries among elite male handball players'

Risk factors for overuse shoulder injuries among elite male handball players

Details about the project - category Details about the project - value
Project status: Published
Project manager: Ben Clarsen
Supervisor(s): Roald Bahr, Grethe Myklebust
Coworker(s): Silje Randen Prestkvern, Stig Haugsbø Andersson, Mari Tyrdal, Rikke Munk Kristensen


Handball is a sport that exposes the shoulder joint to large stresses due to repetitive, forceful overhead throwing, and clinicians in the field report that overuse shoulder injuries are highly prevalent at all levels of the game.

This is supported by several research projects, for example a cross-sectional study conducted by members of OSTRC found that 57% of female players in the Norwegian elite series had suffered from shoulder pain in the preceding twelve months. However, there is currently little information on the extent of the problem among male players. 

Furthermore, we currently lack knowledge on risk factors for the development of shoulder injuries in handball, and this is essential information in developing effective injury prevention strategies.

Studies from other throwing sports such as baseball indicate that the strength and flexibility of the rotator cuff muscles, the stability of the scapula and the amount of throwing that players perform may be important factors influencing injury risk; however the extent to which this applies to handball remains unknown.



- To record the extent of overuse shoulder injuries among male players in the Norwegian elite series

- To determine the influence of shoulder strength, shoulder flexibility, neuromuscular control and throwing volume on injury risk.



We visited all teams in the Norwegian elite series for men prior to the start of the 2011-12 season and tested players’ shoulder strength, flexibility and neuromuscular control. A total of 206 players were included in the project.

Shoulder injuries were recorded throughout the season using a new method for the registration of overuse injuries that has been developed at OSTRC. In addition, in order to help estimate each player’s throwing workload, all their throws and passes during a typical week of training and two games were recorded using video analysis.

Following the end of the season the data will be analysed to determine the relationship between the potential risk factors and overuse shoulder injuries.

This project will show whether simple field tests can identify players at risk of sustaining an overuse shoulder injury. It may also help us to develop effective interventions for the prevention of this problem, such as training programs and recommendations on the amount of throwing that should be performed by elite male handball players.