Strength training reduces sports injury rates

Strength training is integral to any well thought out program for an athlete be they a runner, cyclist, footballer or rugby player. The reason for it’s inclusion is usually performance related, as in looking for it to aid improved performance through the ability to generate more force etc. There are other benefits to getting stronger and in this paper from the BJSM website it’s role as an intervention in sports injuries was examined.

The paper concluded that;

“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 of that where it isn’t included.

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 sport, and in team sports the position played. The fundamental principle remains that if you get strong enough you will reduce your chances of injury significantly.

What is strong enough? If we compare two ends of the spectrum strong enough for a good club level middle distance runner may be the ability to squat body weight for a few reps but for a prop forward it may be more like double body weight for a rep or two. For the runner this may seem like a lot but in reality it isn’t, especially if we consider that Mo Farrah will routinely use 1.5 times his body weight, yes I know he’s an elite athlete but it highlights how important strength training can be to the endurance athlete. For the prop the double body weight goal might not seem like enough but we are talking about being strong enough to aid performance and reduce injury risk. If we again use the the pro’s as an example they are squatting 2+ times their body weight for 5 so we can see how getting a rep or two at club level is a solid goal.

Getting stronger builds resilience as well as allowing you to develop more power. This allows you to train harder, for longer or more often when applied properly.

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