03 Nov 2017

We all love sports, but they have their risks.
The thrill and enjoyment we experience from competitive sports has to be carefully monitored alongside the very real risk of injury.
Whether it’s a racket sport, gymnastics, track and field, or any other sport, we naturally have a desire to play at our best but also want to avoid by all means any reason to have to take some time out from training or matches/games.
In this article, I’m going to explain how strength and resistance training reduces the risk of injury for sports.
Jay Hoffman of the American College of Sports Medicine writes in this article that resistance training has three effects on the body which help prevent injury during sports:
1. The effect on bone – He states that “although bone will respond to many types of training programs, especially those with high strain such as jumping or running, it does appear that resistance training provides the greatest osteogenic (increase in bone mineral density) effect”, and also states that this type of training is “…. beneficial for increasing bone strength… also appears to be positively related to bone mineral content…”
2. The effect on connective tissue – He states the primary fiber of connective tissue in the body is collagen, and the research shows that resistance training increases the strength and size of tendons and ligaments, which are indications of increased collagen content. Increased connective tissue provides more support and resistance during sports, preventing risk of injury.
3. The effect on muscle – This is a more well known effect, and Jay says that resistance training is well documented to positively increase the size and strength of muscle. He also confirms “resistance training programs for an aging population have the same benefits for increase in both strength and muscle size as such programs do for the younger and more active population”

The remarks of Jay have been echoed by the scientific literature, also.
This study reports that resistance training promotes growth and/or increases the strength of ligaments, tendons as well as tendon-to-bone and ligament-to-bone strength, joint cartilage and connective tissue sheaths within muscle.
The study also confirms:
“The incidence of various types of overuse injuries, such as swimmer’s shoulder and tennis elbow, may be reduced by the performance of sport and/or motion specific resistance training activities”.
Furthermore, a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine completed a comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis (a study of multiple other studies) on the effectiveness of different protocols including stretching, proprioceptive training and resistance training on injury prevention.
The study looked at the findings from 25 trials, which in total assessed 26,610 participants and 3,464 injuries and concluded:
“Strength training reduced sports injuries to less than 1/3 and overuse injuries could be almost halved.”
This informative graph from RunningPhysio shows vividly how the process of resistance training and it’s cyclical effect on injury prevention:

Source: https://i1.wp.com/www.running-physio.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/wpid-Photo-13-Oct-2013-1627.jpg
At our Physiotherapy Crawley Clinic we recommend that your resistance training follows certain principles for increased effectiveness:
1. Your resistance training must include sport-specific movements. The research confirms that it’s sports-centric resistance training more than anything that helps injury prevention, as it build the muscles, connective tissue and bone density required for your specific sport.
2. Consistency of training is of high priority. Losses in muscle mass and endurance can come after just 2-3 weeks of stopping training, so keep your hard work up throughout the year, taking smart breaks as advised by your strength and conditioning coach.
3. Vary your resistance training. Where possible, ensure you do not stick to the same routine of exercises in the same order for prolonged periods. The variety will cause the body to be forced to adapt and utilise new muscle fibres that it hadn’t before, which is important.
I hope you find this helpful in your journey through sports and well-being.

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