Reducing the Risk of Injury - Is It Possible?
Can you prevent an injury from happening?
Can you reduce your risk of injury?
Glad you asked...
Predictors of Injury
Predicting injuries is challenging. There is currently a TON of time and money being poured into various "injury prevention" programs and software, looking for the magic test or assessment that will determine who is most at risk for injury.
The problem is, I don't think there will ever be simply one single test that will accurately assess someone's risk for injury. There are just too many dang [uncontrollable] variables at play!
Without getting into the complicated science and research behind injury prediction (click here if you want that!), which we like to now refer to as "injury risk reduction," here are a few characteristics that have frequently shown up in research as predictors of injury:
- Previous injury (research here)
- Pain with movement (research here)
- High short term:long term workload ratio (research here)
Now, while there are many uncontrollable factors when it comes to injury (getting hit from an opponent, etc), by focusing on the factors we can control, we hope to reduce the risk of injury and ultimately the number of active people in our community who get injured!
Assessing Movement as a Predictor of Injury
In addition to the list of predictors of injury above, using various movement tests can also be of value when attempting to reduce injury risk. As mentioned earlier in this post, there isn't one test when used in isolation that can accurately predict injury, but rather using a battery of tests to assess movement is the current best practice.
At Revive, we recently starting using the Move2Perform software; a movement measurement and analysis tool that identifies deficits and risk of injury. The software takes into consideration age, gender, sport/activity, and previous injury history to outline your risk of subsequent injury.
Here is a quick video describing the software:
How We Incorporate Movement Testing At Revive
Currently, at our location near World Golf Village in St. Augustine (inside The Exchange Fitness,) our clinician, Trent, is conducting this screening on every new member who signs up to workout at The Exchange. A detailed movement profile PDF is given to the member outlining their score, which is then stored in a database for comparison at a later date.
This allows new members to:
- Understand their movement profile and injury risk before jumping into an exercise program.
- Have the opportunity to further examine any previous or current injuries they may be suffering from.
A perfect example of how useful this testing can be, is in a recent assessment of a new gym member. This member suffered a knee injury six months prior and worked with a physical therapist for four weeks to regain his function. He made great progress, BUT, this patient was discharged from physical therapy WITHOUT ANY functional testing to determine how strong his knee was compared to the other side. He stated,
This client left that appointment without any functional testing to determine the progress of his knee and if it was "back to normal" in comparison to his other side.
Can I run? Can I jump? This client wondered. For the next few months, this client didn't perform any activities he previously enjoyed (surfing, running, etc.) because he didn't feel "confident" in his knee. I don't blame him! He didn't have any testing prior to finishing his treatment with a physical therapist to determine his progress!
Now, nothing against this particular physical therapist or clinic, I'm sure insurance limitations partially dictated this situation. Nonetheless, the importance of performing functional movement testing after an injury (or even occasionally in healthy individuals throughout the year) cannot be underestimated.
What Else Can Reduce Injury Risk?
Another way to reduce your risk of injury is by increasing the capacity (aka. the resiliency) of your tissues.
Think about the basic principle of how an injury occurs...injury occurs when the load (jumping, lifting, etc.) to a tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament, etc.) exceeds that tissue's capacity to absorb said load. This capacity is known as the tissue's failure threshold.
For example, when you jump from a box and land on the ground, those forces from the ground are absorbed by the tissues in your body. The stronger your muscles, ligaments, etc., the more load they can absorb before they fail (injury).
How can we increase tissue capacity?
Glad you asked...
Two words: Strength. Training.
By strength training, or applying a progressive overload stimulus to a tissue, then subsequently allowing it to adapt (get stronger), we increase our tissue capacity. Increased tissue capacity --> increased ability to absorb load --> less likelihood of a load you encounter to exceed your tissue's failure threshold --> less likely for a tissue to get injured.
Wait. So you're telling me lifting weights isn't just for looking good on the beach?
Yes. Strength training isn't just for big muscles or to look good naked. It's also extremely useful for increasing tissue resiliency/capacity. Any way you look at it, strength training is good for you.
BUT, don't simply follow the generic exercises you see on YouTube. Figure out what your body needs. Then give it more of that.
The definition of proactive:
Whether you're similar to the example above and did not receive any discharge testing after an injury, or, you're planning to become more active in the gym, or, you already are extremely active, don't wait until an injury occurs before you do something about it; be proactive about reducing your risk.
You can't score if you're on the bench because you're hurt...nor can you exercise to your full potential if you're frequently injured!
Give us a call, text, or email if you have any questions or to schedule your testing!