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
Strength training for injury prevention
The utilization 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 injury by almost a half. Interestingly static stretching did not provide any meaningful injury prevention benefit (Lauersen et al, 2014). Simply put, having a strong muscle is less likely to be injured than having a long muscle!
So, 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. When a load is placed on bone it triggers a genetic expression to activate the cells that produce new bone, the bone is remodeled 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.
Written by Michael Bushell, Physiotherapist, In Touch Physiotherapy, Singapore