The term 'injury "prevention" program is becoming more and more popular. Gyms, trainers and sports performance facilities stating that their program will prevent injuries. While the advertisement is catchy, the three reasons below will show you why your three-week injury prevention program is stealing your money.
Each one of us is made differently. Our genes make up our eye color, hair color, height and millions of other traits that make us individuals. Amongst the genes produced in our body, are genes that give strength to our muscles, ligaments and bones. As with any other gene in our body, there are variations from person to person. An article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine in 2009 stated that the gene COL1A1 (a variation of a collagen gene) was underrepresented in athletes that suffered ACL injuries, and that those who suffered the injuries, were four times more likely to have a direct blood relative suffer the same injury. Other studies have found similar results in multiple other genes. Variations in genes, and genetic makeup can greatly influence the likelihood of injury. Unless these programs are altering your genetic makeup, there is no possible way that they can truly "prevent" injuries.
Injuries do not happen in isolation, they also don’t happen in the proximity of an enclosed gym or controlled area. The gym, facility, or field that the program is taking place cannot account for variations in terrain, field condition, weather, and most importantly, it cannot account for the actions of other players. The actions of other players, both on your team and the opposition, can cause you to place stresses on your body that it may not be prepared to accept. The field conditions can cause a spike to stick, or a foot to slip. You can prepare as hard as you want but the events and conditions of an athletic event are almost completely unpredictable.
Injuries are multifactoral
Injuries are not only related to actions that occur on the field. Your actions outside the field have influence as well. Sleep is one example of an outside factor in injury prediction. Individuals who slept less than 8 hours per night were 1.7 times more likely to incur an injury. Nutrition, acute to chronic workload ratio, and past medical history are other factors that play a role in your likely hood of injury.
All good strength and conditioning programs should be decreasing your likelihood of injury through individualized strengthening, mobility, plyometric work, sport specific drills and any other aspect that you may need as an individual. My advice, begin with seeking out a good strength and conditioning coach to properly prepare you a long-term outline and short term programming blocks that meet your needs. That should be the foundation to decrease your risk of injury. From there you can find anyone else that may become part of your athletic team (position coach, nutritionist, physician, physical therapist ect.). Decreasing the risk of injury doesn’t happen over a three or four-week program, it happens over the course of your athletic career with well-planned programs that meet your specific needs.
Can an individualized, well planned strength and conditioning program help decrease the likelihood of incurring an injury? Yes. Can it prevent it? Absolutely, not.
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