You Can’t Go Wrong By Being Strong! Strength Training For Sports Injury Prevention

Whether you’re a gym buff, a marathon runner, a cross-fit enthusiast or a bodybuilder, it’s statistically probable that you have been or will at one point be injured. Although injuries are never completely unavoidable, there are clear evidenced-based ways to reduce the risk.

When playing sports, there is always a risk of injury, but it can be proactively minimised.

What Does The Evidence Say?

The utilisation of strength training for injury prevention is not a new concept in the sports community, but many coaches, trainers and athletes still don’t see it as a necessary part of a workout plan. Recent high-quality studies have shown that  incorporating strength training into athletic or fitness training decreases the risk and/or severity of injury over and above other modalities for injury prevention. A systematic review of all high-quality studies investigating the effect of various injury prevention strategies concluded that strength training reduces acute sports injury risk by ⅓ and the risk of overuse injuries by almost 1/2. Static stretching did not provide any meaningful injury prevention benefit1. Simply put, you’re less likely to get injured if you have a strong muscle rather than a long muscle!

Marathon runner
Research indicates that strength training reduces acute sports injuries risk by 1/3.1

What Is The Physiological Basis Of Strength Training To Reduce Injury?

Resistance training provides dynamic loads on the body, creating physiological adaptive changes in the bone, muscle, and connective tissue (tendons and ligaments). Bone has an incredible ability to rebuild itself, so when a load is added, it triggers a genetic expression to activate the cells that produce new bone. The bone is then remodelled, increasing its density and therefore making itself stronger and more resilient. This decreases the chances of a future bone injury.

As muscles, tendons, and ligaments are the support system of every joint, they are at high risk for being injured with the complex, dynamic movements associated with sports and exercise. Resistance training helps strengthen muscle and tendons, enabling them to resist and generate greater forces, while increasing the stability of the ligaments which decreases their risk of becoming injured.

weight lifting
There is a clear dose-response effect between strength training and its injury prevention effect.

How Much Resistance Training Needs To Be Included In A Training Program To Be Effective?

Authors of a recent systematic study concluded that there is a clear dose-response effect between strength training and its injury prevention effect. This means that the greater the volume and intensity of strength training undertaken, the greater the injury preventative effects experienced2.

In addition, there was no significant difference among the types of strength exercises performed and their preventative effects. It’s recommended to have a full-body resistance training regime to lower the risk of injury, and improve sports performance regardless of skill level and activity type. This may equate to 2-3 short sessions a week containing 4-6 exercises.

Get Your Physio To Build You A Tailored Strengthening Program!

Your physiotherapist can specifically design a strength training program suitable for your fitness and sporting goals. We typically follow this process:

  1. Initial assessment: One-on-one consultation to understand your current fitness, lifestyle, needs, and goals.
  2. Training plan: A customised and detailed program aimed at helping you increase your strength and reduce the risk of injuries.
  3. Progress review: A regular review to assess your progress and fine tune your training plan based on your body’s condition and latest goals.

So what are you waiting for? Chat with your physio about your sporting needs. You can’t go wrong by getting strong!

Written By: Michael Bushell, B.Sc. Physio (Aust); M. Manual Therapy (Aust); M.S.P.A

As an Australian Physiotherapy Association (APA) Titled Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist with over 24 years of clinical experience, Michael is a highly qualified physiotherapist with expert knowledge and skills in all areas of musculoskeletal and sports physiotherapy.


  1. Lauersen, Bertelsen & Andersen, The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials, 2014.
  2. Lauersen, Andersen & Andersen, Strength training as superior, dose-dependent and safe prevention of acute and overuse sports injuries: a systematic review, qualitative analysis and meta-analysis 2018

How much resistance training needs to be included in a training program to be effective?

A recent systematic review asked this question. The authors concluded that there is a clear dose-response effect regarding strength training and its injury prevention effect. This means that the greater the volume and intensity of strength training undertaken the greater the injury preventative effects were experienced. This was observed for both acute and overuse injuries across all types of sports (Lauersen et al 2018).

Written by Michael Bushell, Physiotherapist

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You can’t go wrong by being strong!

You may be a talented rugby player, a novice marathon runner, a coach to a high school badminton player, an elderly fitness enthusiast or a weekend warrior playing park football. Whatever example matches yours, statistically you’ve either been injured yourself or have had to coach an individual through an injury. Some of us may be incredibly skilled at our sport or dedicated to our fitness regimes but are constantly injured and therefore never get the chance to fulfill our sporting and fitness goals. Although injuries are never completely unavoidable there are clear, evidenced-based ways to reduce the risk.

Written by Michael Bushell, Physiotherapist

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Q&A with our triathlete physio Wendy Casterton

What made you become a physio?

It was always my dream job! My first undergraduate degree was in French, yet with life experience and a personal training and sports massage qualification, I was accepted on to a physiotherapy degree as a mature student. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see my clients smile again once they know they’re recovering from or in control of their physical ailment. As a physio, compared with other medical professionals, we have the privilege of spending a little more time with clients to really get to know them, which really helps with aligning treatment with their goals.

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Triathlon Injuries

Getting injured whilst participating in triathlon is incredibly common. Around 75% of all triathletes will suffer from injury during their racing career, rising to 91% for Ironman (long distance) triathletes. Overuse is the most common cause of injury – which is good news as that is something we can manage – usually occurring in the lower leg or ankle, knees, low back or shoulders. Occasionally injuries will be due to some kind of trauma, most likely falling off the bike!

Written by Wendy Casterton, Physiotherapist

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Getting back to the fitness routine you love after an injury

Often, we are motivated towards a fitness routine we enjoy, be it the daily ritual at the gym or yoga studio, the weekly scuttle around the tennis court, or even a guilt-driven run around the block.

Time and time again, we struggle with sustaining this consistency due to our enslavement to work, personal commitments, or a new/old injury.

It gets frustrating seeing how far we’ve progressed, only to regress on our fitness goals.

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