Strength training for the prevention of sports injuries
This systematic review found consistent evidence of a dose-response effect between strength training and its preventive effect on sports injuries: increased strength training volume and intensity led to sports injury risk reduction despite the differences in populations and interventions.
It is also worth noting that the analysed studies were generally well-designed and executed, had high compliance rates, were safe, and attained consistently favourable results across four different acute and overuse injury outcomes.
Effective injury prevention is of the utmost importance in the field of sports medicine - not only for athlete welfare, but also in terms of the financial consequences of injury. The use of strength training has proven to be accessible, effective, and cost-effective for different populations.
Six studies involving 7738 participants were included in the current review and meta-analysis. The included studies had a low risk of bias and a GRADEpro rating of “high certainty” of evidence.
Three potential mechanisms of how strength training reduces sports injury risk were identified.
The authors recommend a familiarisation/ technique phase prior to gradual volume and intensity progressing phases. Given the positive effects of strength training found across different populations, it is considered that while exercises can be claimed to be site-specific and injuries of interest to be sport-specific, the mechanisms and cause of effect most likely cannot.
The evidence provided in this article is sufficient to warrant a paradigm shift from the current dominance of multicomponent prevention programs towards strength training programs.
Expert opinion by José Pedro Correia
This review is of particular significance, as the observed effects on risk ratios were consistent between studies, populations, and interventions, and a dose-response effect was present. Therefore, the amount and quality of evidence seems too substantial to ignore the potential of strength training as a means for acute and chronic injury prevention.
It won't make your athletes slower, it won't make your athletes less agile. Quite the contrary; given the available evidence, not only from this review, not using strength training seems absolutely nonsensical at this time. After all, nothing makes an athlete slower or less agile than injury.
> From: Lauersen et al., Br J Sports Med 52 (2018) 1557-1563 (Epub ahead of print). All rights reserved to The Author(s). Click here for the online summary.