MILAN, Nov 2 (Reuters) - The glut of muscle injuries suffered by players in Serie A this season could have been partly avoided with less intensive training sessions, top sports medics said on Tuesday.
Inter Milan coach Rafael Benitez, who took over from Jose Mourinho in the close season, hit out on Monday at critics who say his new training regime is to blame for 15 muscle-related problems among his Inter players already this term.
Benitez said 40 percent of the injuries were picked up on international duty while 85 percent were recurring from last year, but experts say the critics have a point.
"Certainly a big reason for it is the amount of games being played but you also can't have training so intense and so often," Professor Arsenio Veicsteinas, one of Italy's most respected sports doctors from the University of Milan, told Reuters.
"It's very easy to say don't train, it's very difficult to put into practice. Players often also don't recuperate properly from injuries and then play and this augments the problem."
Doctor Sergio Califano from the Medical Institute of Sport in Florence agreed that if top professional players trained less there would be less injuries to their ultra-toned muscles which are pushed to the limit.
However, training less compared to an opposition side would clearly hand the athletic advantage to the other team.
"It's possible that you get more injuries if you change the intensity of training, it's a phenomenon that happens. It's not rare," Califano told Reuters.
"This is a problem with all top level sport, if you push it to the maximum then there is a risk. It's logical that you can't push muscles past a certain point. But we know not training as much isn't possible or practical."
Juventus are another Italian team to have had a series of injuries over the past few years with the unexplainably high humidity of their training ground blamed by some pundits for the problem.
Football has transformed over the last 20 years from a sport where technique was key to one where fitness is now more important.
However, that fitness quickly suffers because of the number of matches teams like Champions League winners Inter are playing.
"People say Lazio are top of Serie A because they are not playing in Europe," Califano concluded.