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Is Erling Haaland injury prone?

Dr. Raj, DPT examines the new Man City striker’s injury history

Norwegian striker Erling Haaland will be moving to Manchester City this summer for what will be an enormous outlay when including agent fees and wages.

With that level of investment comes an expectation of availability but Haaland has missed 16 games this season to injury – a fact that Real Madrid were reportedly weary of when attempting to get his signature.

That brings up the question – is he injury prone? Lets take a closer look

Injury History

Haaland’s injury record prior to this season doesn’t bring up any yellow or red flags. Prior to his arrival at Dortmund, he dealt with some relatively mild injury problems, the longest period he ever missed was three weeks due to a ligament injury.

Last season, he had a series of mild injuries and a grade 2 hamstring muscle tear in December of 2020, with no recurrence of injury. Still nothing outside of normal variance.

However, this season, he’s had a series of muscular issues that really began with a hip flexor problem in September and then recurred again in October. After that, he suffered an adductor tear that him nearly a month and a half.

Injury prone?

A series of muscular injuries is unfortunate but it doesn’t necessarily mean Haaland is injury prone. Once you pick up a significant muscle injury, there’s risk for knock-on effects and further injuries due to compensation along with fluctuations in fitness and ramping up to match fitness – both of which come with inherent risks. 

To that point, Dortmund manager Marco Rose stated that Haaland struggled with movement confidence and fitness as he recovered from the adductor injury after missing significant time with a hip flexor injury.

Once you enter into the vicious cycle of injury-reinjury during a season, it’s very difficult to get out of it until the off-season where you have the proper time to really address the underlying issues and ramp up more gradually. If you see that across multiple seasons, then that’s definitely a yellow  or red flag.

Key risks

Irrespective of being injury prone or not, there are some key risks to consider in Haaland’s case.

Firstly, his high pace and positional demands, namely the amount of sprints per game, combine to place a higher load on his muscles and risk for overload.

Secondly, there are multiple reports that Haaland took pain killers to play through injuries – specifically a lateral ankle sprain – when it wasn’t advised. Playing through injury can have significant knock-on effects, as City know quite well with Kevin De Bruyne playing through a high ankle sprain at Euros and then suffering the consequences for the first 6 weeks of the season.

Key positives

To counter those risks, there are some key positives.

Firstly, at only 21 years olds, Haaland is still developing towards his physical peak. That will only serve to make him more resilient against injuries.

Secondly, according to multiple accounts, Haaland is extremely committed & disciplined when it comes to his health & fitness. That mentality & daily work is critical towards guarding against future injuries & building up resilience.

Thirdly, City has the personnel to make the game easier and less demanding for Haaland. Whether that means easier chances and/or being able to rotate more often.

Fourthly, part of City’s vast resources go towards giving their players the best when it comes to medical, sports science, and fitness staff along with state of the art recovery & facilities.

Medical Exam

Last but not least, City’s medical staff complete a full work-up on Haaland and detailed look at his injury history prior to the completion of the transfer. They’ve already considered these risks as part of their transfer.

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Dr. Rajpal Brar, DPT, (@3cbperformance) is a physiotherapist, movement expert, strength and conditioning/fitness coach, sports scientist and mindfulness coach. He runs the LA and online based physiotherapy and athletic performance clinic 3CB Performance and you can subscribe to his Youtube channel (which posts a variety of sports injury, performance, and fitness related content).

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