Sport Injuries Prevention 101
Life moves so fast. Sporting seasons change every 6 months. However, it may seem that just as the excitement you had for the beginning of the season starts to slowly fade, your teammates are similarly diminishing, although now as a result of avoidable sport injuries.
This is an all too common occurrence in competitive sport these days, with increasing statistics of sport-related avoidable injuries. It’s always an encouragement to see the increase of competitive and recreational sport participation however it comes with increasing incidences in soft tissue injuries, such as hamstring strains, in combination with the alarming rise of Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injuries in adolescents (up 147% in just Victoria alone last year!!).
We need to address the importance of sport injuries prevention.
With that in mind, I have some top tips to help avoid the incidence of preventable sport-related injuries:
1. Go to training!
Training is vital to help expose the body to the similar demands required in your chosen sport. Without these physiological demands, the body is at a higher risk of injury when placed in a-game context.
A great example of this correlation is seen in the effects of preseason training. Players who attended less than 50% of training before season competition were 2x more likely to get injured than those that completed >85% of training.
Despite these statistics relating to pre-competition play, a similar correlation can be found within season training also. Think of this next time you’re thinking of giving Tuesday’s conditioning training or Thursdays kick around a miss. It could be saving you weeks on the sideline.
2. Warm up well!
Now that you appreciate the importance of training, and consistently have turned up. Think about how often you just turn up and kick a few balls around to a mate instead of performing an adequate warm up.
Now warm ups have been given a bad wrap within the sports training scene as tedious, boring, a waste of time. However, when done right, an efficient and effective warm up helps to prevent injury.
In fact, the results of many research studies showed that the main predictor of sport injuries between athletes that get injured and those that don’t was whether they completed an adequate warm up (3).
In other words, warming up was the most effective way to reduce sport injuries, so get amongst it!
3. Perform well-suited exercise program
The best way to incorporate this into training is to perform sport injuries prevention training program such as the FIFA 11+, PEP program or Netball KNEE program. These have lit up the world of sports medicine in research years due to their simplicity and effectiveness in reducing sporting injuries, namely ACL sport injuries.
Programs like the FIFA 11+, PEP and Netball KNEE have all shown to not only reduce ACL injury risk by 50%, but all knee injuries by nearly 30% (2).
In addition, when these programs are performed for a minimum of 15mins they help to reduce serious knee injuries, such as ACL, injuries by 34%. I repeat 34%! This is compared with a 68% percent reduction in performing it greater than 30 mins per week (1).
The time taken out of the week to perform these programs are worth their weight in injury prevention gold and should be made a non-negotiable in training and pre-game sessions in every team for the rest of time! No more excuses.
4. Keeping muscles strong by performing strengthening or resistance exercises
Another predictor of injury, in particular soft tissue injuries such as hamstrings, is a lack of muscle strength.
Thus, including even the simplest of strengthening exercises such as hamstring and adductor (groin) strengthening seen in the aforementioned FIFA 11+ program can help to maintain and improve muscle strength. Again, a really simple and effective measure to ensure ongoing preventative strengthening.
5. See a Health Professional
In developing this list, albeit short, I hoped to help break the trend of increasing avoidable injuries and help to reduce the burden placed upon sporting clubs from a grassroots to professional level. In saying this, there are always going to be some exceptions and unfortunately some injuries are unavoidable.
Therefore, when athletes experience symptoms that impact on their function, such as pain, tightness or just what they perceive as a minor twinge, I will always advocate to see a health professional for an assessment.
Injuries can always be most effectively managed and treated at an early, or acute level!
However, too often we see injuries develop into a greater burden on the player and a team as athletes.
At ATUNE Health Centres, we are well experienced and equipped in managing all sporting injuries. In addition, we are leaders in integrative and preventative care, effectively implementing personalised care helping everyone to keep active and stay on the sporting field.
Sugimoto, D., Myer, G. D., Barber Foss, K. D., & Hewett, T. E. (2014). Dosage Effects of Neuromuscular Training Intervention to Reduce Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries in Female Athletes: Meta-and Sub-group Analyses. Sports Medicine (Auckland, N.Z.), 44(4), 551–562. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-013-0135-9
Donnell-Fink, L. A., Klara, K., Collins, J. E., Yang, H. Y., Goczalk, M. G., Katz, J. N., & Losina, E. (2015). Effectiveness of knee injury and anterior cruciate ligament tear prevention programs: A meta-analysis. PloS one, 10(12), e0144063.
Herman, K., Barton, C., Malliaras, P., & Morrissey, D. (2012). The effectiveness of neuromuscular warm-up strategies, that require no additional equipment, for preventing lower limb injuries during sports participation: a systematic review. BMC Medicine, 10, 75. https://doi.org/10.1186/1741-7015-10-75