I picked up this link to this paper on the BJSM sebsite which looks at the effectiveness of exercise intervention in sports injuries. The conclusion from the paper was;
“In general, physical activity was shown to effectively reduce sports injuries. Stretching proved no beneficial effect, whereas multiple exposure programmes, proprioception training, and strength training, in that order, showed a tendency towards increasing effect. Strength training reduced sports injuries to less than one-third. We advocate that multiple exposure interventions should be constructed on the basis of well-proven single exposures and that further research into single exposures, particularly strength training, remains crucial. Both acute and overuse injuries could be significantly reduced, overuse injuries by almost a half. Apart from a few outlying studies, consistently favourable estimates were obtained for all injury prevention measures except for stretching. ”
In other words a well designed and thought out strength training program reduced injuries significantly to less than a 1/3.
Whilst the study was looking at sports injuries there is no reason to think that we can’t apply this to those who are not involved in sport. The strength levels required to compete in different sports vary depending on the requirements of the individual sport and sometimes the position played but the fundamental but the basic principle remains that if you get strong enough you will reduce your chances of injury significantly. We can therefore reasonably say that the only difference perhaps between those involved n sport and those who aren’t is what we might define as strong enough.