Many footballers get a bad name for themselves by tumbling over, screaming at the slightest knock.
However, they may not be faking the pain after all, if new scientific research based on professional footballers in England is to be believed.
Modern players in the English leagues suffer twice as many recurring injuries as their predecessors did in the late 90s.
Experts also found the rate of injuries has risen by 50 per cent, which they blame on having to play more games and working harder during matches.
Cristiano Ronaldo (pictured playing for Portugal in 2016) is infamous for his dramatic reactions when he’s tackled or injured
Experts say the number of injuries suffered by English footballers has risen since the late 1990s, which could be because they have to play more often or have to work harder (pictured: Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane holding his leg in a match against West Ham)
Researchers from Leeds Beckett University studied the rate of injuries in 243 players from the EFL and the National League in the 2015/16 season.
The English Football League (EFL) includes Premier League teams, as well as those from the Championship, League One and League Two.
Players in the study, published in the journal Physical Therapy in Sport, were chosen from 10 unknown teams.
In a previous study of players between 1997 and 1999, players averaged 1.3 injuries per player per season.
But that figure rose by half over the next 15 years and hit 1.9 in the 2016 season, the study led by Ashley Jones found.
And recurring injuries – defined as ones which are the same type of injury returning in the same place after another had healed – rose as well.
They made up more than one in six of all injuries (17 per cent), compared to just one in 14 (seven per cent) in the study published in 2001.
This suggests fewer players are sustaining a higher proportion of the injuries by getting hurt multiple times over the season.
Players in the UK now suffer 1.9 injuries per player per season on average, research shows, a rise from 1.3 per player in 2001 (pictured: Manchester United’s Paul Pogba clutching his shoulder in a game against Chelsea last month)
‘This change over the last 16 years could also be attributed to the higher number of fixture demands across all English football leagues,’ the authors wrote in the study.
‘Cup competitions with an increased number of rounds for football league teams also add fixture congestion.’
They said studying teams outside of the Premier League could also increase the rate of injury because EFL teams play 48 matches per season compared to 38.
And another recent study suggested top-flight footballers are having to put in increasing amounts of effort to be the best.
Between the 2006 and 2012 seasons, the amount of time players spent doing high-intensity activity shot up by 30 per cent.
Modern players sprint 35 per cent further and 85 per cent more often, the same study by the University of Sunderland found.
The thigh is the most common place for injuries, making up nearly a third of them (31.7 per cent), followed by the knee (14.6 per cent) and ankle (13 per cent).
And muscle strains account for four of every 10 injuries, followed by muscle sprains (17 per cent) and blunt soft tissue trauma (13.7 per cent).
Injuries are most commonly considered to be moderate, taking between eight and 28 days to heal.
The thigh is the most common place to injure, according to researchers, followed by the knee and ankle – lower limb injuries make up the vast majority
PREMIER LEAGUE MUST DO MORE TO FIGHT PROBLEM GAMBLING
The Premier League must do more to help pick up the bill caused by problem gambling, the head of the NHS warned in September.
Simon Stevens described gambling as one of the ‘new threats arising’ for the nation’s health and heaping strain on mental health services.
Just under half – nine out of 20 Premier League teams – and 17 out of 24 (70 per cent) of teams in the Championship are now sponsored by gambling companies.
The chief executive for NHS England said it was ‘deeply concerning’ that foreign betting companies with shirt sponsorship deals are ‘failing to play their part’ in funding addiction services.
Figures from the Gambling Commission show there are 430,000 people in the UK with gambling addictions, including 25,000 children under 16.
He urged Premier League clubs involved in lucrative deals with gambling companies to press them to stump up the necessary cash to ease pressure on the NHS.
Mr Stevens said: ‘There is an increasing link between problem gambling and stress, depression and other mental health problems.
‘Doctors report two thirds of problem gamblers get worse without help and the NHS does offer specialist treatment.
‘But reports that foreign gambling companies are failing to play their part in co-funding help for addicts are deeply concerning.
‘Taxpayers and the NHS should not be left to pick up the pieces – the health of the nation is everyone’s responsibility.’