By Liza Baskin
Injuries are basically the only downside of exercise, and many sports injuries can be tough to treat. But certain types of exercise may help people prevent these sports injuries.
A recent study found that physical activity exercise programs were effective in the prevention of sports injuries.
The researchers found that strength training was the most effective activity for preventing injuries, and stretching was the least effective.
This study was conducted by Jeppe Bo Lauersen from the Institute of Sports Medicine Copenhagen at Bispebjerg Hospital in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues.
The researchers reviewed 25 previously published studies on sports injuries. All the studies were published by January 2013.
There were a total of 26,610 study participants with 3,464 injuries. Thirteen of the studies included only adults, 11 included only adolescents, and one study included both.
All participants in the studies were injury-free when they were initially enrolled. The researchers of this review only considered first-time injuries when repeats were listed.
The studies considered one or more of the following different types of physical exercise: strength training, stretching, proprioception (balance exercises) and programs that included more than one type of exercise.
The researchers found that overall physical exercise reduced the risk of sports injuries by 37 percent.
Strength training was found to be the most effective, with a 68 percent decreased risk of sports injury.
Stretching was the least effective method of prevention, with only a 4 percent decreased risk of sports injury.
The findings on strength training and stretching were similar across studies, even though the studies used different exercise programs and had different outcomes of interest. Therefore, the researchers suggested that these findings can be generalizable outside of this review.
Proprioception was associated with a 52 percent decreased risk of sports injury, and multi-method programs led to a 37 percent decreased risk.
The results from proprioception and multi-programs were not comparable across studies, so the findings on these two methods were less conclusive and generalizable than those on other methods.
Some of the studies also considered whether or not the injury was acute (from a single event) or from overuse, and found that exercise programs were associated with a 38 percent decreased risk of acute injuries and a 47 percent decreased risk of overuse injuries.
The researchers believe there is a need for further research on the effect of strength training on a wider variety of injuries. They also suggested that future studies should focus on acute and overuse injuries separately.
The researchers also believe that multi-exercise programs may lessen the beneficial effects of the different exercises that are incorporated, and thus these programs need to be examined further.
This study was published online on October 7 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
The authors declared no conflicts of interest.