Some athletes always seem to get injured while others enjoy long, healthy careers, so Australian researchers are now investigating a question posed by many sports fans: do some athletes carry the injury gene.
Legendary basketballer Ken Griffey, junior and current Australian cricketer Shane Watson know how persistent injuries can stagnant a sports career.
Victoria University's Dr Nir Eynon told Xinhua on Friday his team of Australian and South African researchers are looking closely at the genes of patients who have ruptured their anterior crucial ligament (ACL) in a non-contact situation.
"We're looking to distinguish their genes versus the general population and to see whether there are genes which can predispose them more or less to this specific injury," Eynon said.
ACL is a key ligament in the knee and its rupture is one of the most severe musculoskeletal soft tissue injuries in sport.
It often ends careers, especially in sports requiring lateral movement, such as football and basketball.
"You can imagine there is a lot of implication down the road for athletes, whether they are more predisposed or less predisposed, to injuries and to training loads," he said.
Previous studies in the area, with smaller samples than the 1, 000 this study is aiming for, suggested a link between the collagen genes controlling ligaments and tendon structure.
The first large-scale study will test whether this gene can predict certain injuries, and the results could change the way coaches and managers train their athletes.
For now, the research will focus on non-athlete individuals from Australia, South Africa and Poland. Eynon and his team is still looking for 500 healthy participants to provide small genetic samples before the research can commence.
"It only requires a small sample - a blood sample - and filling out a questionnaire," he said.
"Down the line, we would like to recruit a cohort of athletes who have had ACL injuries, and compare them to athletes who haven' t had ACL injuries. That's the next step for us."(Xinhua)