Is it Possible to Prevent
Sports Injuries?
“Sports injuries are one of the most common injuries in modern western
societies. Treating sports injuries is often difficult, expensive and time
consuming, and thus, preventative strategies and activities are justified
on medical as well as economic grounds.”
Jarki Parkkari, Urho M. Kujala and Pekka Pannus pg. 985
• Most sports teams and sports fans seem to wave off injuries as part
of the sport.
• “Walk it off”
• “Rub some dirt on it”
• But with some easily implemented preventative measures we could
watch our favorite athletes play for a few more seasons
We Need Data
• Successful injury prevention requires valid pre- and postintervention data.
• We need to know the extent of the problem.
• The aetiology, risk factors and exact mechanisms of injuries
need to be identified before initiating any prevention program.
• Measurement of the outcomes of the study need to be
• Must be randomized.
Recording Injuries and Monitoring
• It would be optimal to use the same sports
injury method in all sports. Why can’t you do
The Criterion for Measuring a Injury
• Time lost from practice*
* - This doesn’t work in all cases. It would have a hard
time measuring mild to medium concussions or a
“Within a particular sport, the overall gender differences in
the injury risk is small, but differences by age groups are more
pronounced. Injuries in children are less frequent than those in
Athletes usually spend far more time in training than
competing. Since about half of acute injuries associated with
team-game athletes occur in competitions, it is evident that
competitions involve a higher risk per hour of activity than
Jarki Parkkari, Urho M. Kujala and Pekka Pannus pg. 988
So, Can Injuries Be Prevented?
Yes they can! Here’s the breakdown.
• Relative Risk = 0.25 Control Group p < 0.001
• This can be reduced by 75% through the use of prophylactic ankle taping, ankle disk training, controlled
rehabilitation, fitting for optimal equipment, teaching of the importance of disciplined play and the risk of
increased injuries at training camps.
• Relative Risk = 0.49 Control Group p < 0.005
• This can be reduced by 51% through the instruction of proper warm up and stretching, selection of well
fitted running shoes and individually tailored training regime.
• Relative Risk = 0.17 CI = 95%
• This can be reduced 76% through a simple 10-15 ankle disk training session and warm up before matches
• Relative Risk = 0.44 p < 0.005
• The study was only conducted on defensive players
• A prophylactic knee brace significantly reduced injuries but, did not decrease the severity of knee injuries.
Ankle Injuries
“Five randomized studies with data from 3954 participants focused
on prevention of ankle injuries. Four of these studies examined ankle
stabilisers an provided high-quality evidence that the use of semirigid
ankle stabilizers reduces the risk of ankle sprains.”
“There is no strong relationship between the shoe type used (highversus low-top) and ankle sprains in basketball players, indicating that
the protective effect of ‘high-top’ shoes remains to be established.”
Jarki Parkkari, Urho M. Kujala and Pekka Pannus pg. 990
Knee Injuries
• The prophylactic knee brace is the best
preventive equipment and should be used by
most if not all high impact sport athletes.
• If athletes are taught how to avoid dangerous
injuries many can be prevented.
• Injuries in sports will never be 100% preventable.
• There is a co-intervention effect.
The Co-intervention Effect
• Informing a athlete of the risk of injury may have an effect on
the risks taken by the athlete. Teaching athletes how to avoid
risks is the best method for preventing them.
• Currently there is no injury prevention classes being taught in
any major sport.*
* - During the NBA Combine they used sophisticated
technology to track players fatigue and reduce the risk of
“There is a continuous need for high-quality scientific
studies on the effects of various types of injury prevention
and it is important that there is a system of collecting data
on all injuries occurring in new modes of sports as well as
on the catastrophic injuries in all types of sports.”
Jarki Parkkari, Urho M. Kujala and Pekka Pannus pg. 991

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