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Why do Real Madrid suffer so many muscle injuries?

Real Madrid v Levante - La Liga Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Marcelo is now the latest Real Madrid player to suffer from a hamstring muscle injury after Karim Benzema's strain against Levante.

The Brazilian was seen clutching his thigh after competing for the ball against the Betis defence on Wednesday night and was substituted a few minutes later.

The incident happened early in the second half. Marcelo got up and jogged back towards the middle of the field, but began to limp almost immediately and it was obvious then that he was in trouble.

Forced to signal towards the bench that he needed attention, Marcelo suddenly found himself involved in the play once again before he could receive any treatment. Faced with the decision of whether to leave the ball and give Betis another opportunity to break from defence, he elected to play a cross-field pass; but in doing so pulled up once again.

Zidane was left with no choice at that point. Marcelo would be coming off; yet another member of Real Madrid's squad to suffer a hamstring muscle injury and he now joins Karim Benzema et al in the treatment room. This latest injury is going to be a worry for him.

It's not the first time that Marcelo has suffered with his hamstrings. There was a previous episode in January of this year when he sustained a similar injury; and in addition to that, Marcelo also had a back injury during the close season in 2015 which forced him to miss the Copa America with Brazil.

There could well be a connection. The lower back, the hip and groin, and the hamstring muscle group are all linked in terms of injury potential; and due to the biomechanical interaction of each, an injury to one area can often affect the other areas in turn.

As an example of this, lower back pain will often limit the ability to touch the toes, as does a hamstring injury. How often have we heard people say that they can't touch their toes because they ''have tight hamstrings?'' Sometimes it's the back that can be the problem.

The reason is that lower back pain can often influence a player's susceptibility to hamstring injuries and vice versa. If one area is tight, then so too will be the others and this can lead to the potential for further injury.

This is not to say that the injury Marcelo sustained against Betis was a direct result of having had previous injuries or even that episode of back pain, but this is something that Madrid's medical team will be considering as part of his overall treatment programme.

Although it's easy to comment from the cheap seats, I'm sure Marcelo won't mind me discussing him like this; bearing in mind that reducing the injury risk by addressing everything relative to prevention is a huge part of football today.

There is probably more emphasis placed on that aspect of the game now than at any other time in the past. However, the human factor always comes in to it and players are people after all; with the same potential for injury as the rest of us!

In football, there are always going to be injuries as part of the game and sometimes trying to prevent them can be like trying to turn back the tide.

Even when using the best injury prevention programmes in the world together with screening techniques and all the rest, limitations remain at attempting to minimise injury risk as opposed to being able to prevent these outright.

Marcelo's injury leaves Zidane a bit light for cover. Raphaël Varane has only recently returned to the team after a groin injury and Jesús Valleco is still easing himself back into training following a thigh strain. Toni Kroos and Mateo Kovačić are also unavailable at the moment as is Theo Hernández with a shoulder injury.

The number of players having treatment at Real Madrid has increased in recent weeks as the games have got harder; testing Zidane's selection policies to the full.

As a coach who favours the rotation system and a high-intensity approach to training, Zinedine Zidane's philosophy is to ensure that the players work hard in training sessions where underlying conditioning programmes are designed with injury minimisation in mind.

As always though, injuries have a habit of coming in waves; and with the international break due shortly, the club runs the ever-present risk of players who will be away on international duty picking up even more injuries.

For those left behind, the opportunity to continue working towards full fitness isn't something to be missed. Hopefully Marcelo will benefit from the regular attention and make a quick but complete recovery.

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