You can’t go wrong by being strong! Strength training for sports injury prevention

You may be a talented rugby player, a novice marathon runner, a coach to a high school badminton player, a senior fitness enthusiast or a weekend warrior playing park football. Whichever example matches your profile, statistically you’ve either been injured yourself or have had to coach an individual through an injury. Although injuries are never completely unavoidable there are clear, evidenced-based are ways to reduce the risk.

baseball
When playing sports, there is always a risk of injury, but this risk can be minimised

Is there any evidence on the benefits of strength training for injury prevention?

The utilisation of strength training for injury prevention is not a new concept, but for some reason some coaches, trainers and athletes still don’t see it as a necessary addition to a workout plan. Recent high-quality studies have elucidated that incorporating strength training in 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 strength training reduced acute sports injuries risk by 1/3 and the risk of overuse injuries by almost a half. Interestingly static stretching did not provide any meaningful injury prevention benefit1. Simply put, having a strong muscle is less likely to be injured than having a long muscle!

Marathon runner
Research indicates that strength training reduces acute sports injuries risk by one third1

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 placed on bone it triggers a genetic expression to activate the cells that produce new bone, the bone is remodelled increasing its density and therefore making the bone 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?

A recent systematic review asked this question. The authors 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 were experienced2. Also, the types of strength exercises performed did not have a significant influence on those preventative effects. A full-body resistance training regime is recommended to help lower this risk of injury in any athlete and improve your sports performance regardless of skill level and activity type. This may equate to 2-3 short sessions a week containing 4-6 exercises.

Building a strength training program to suit your needs

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 start getting strong because you can’t go wrong!

 Article 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.

References:

  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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