Can Pre-Season Strength Prevent Injury?

Sports injury prevention does not come from the level of fitness before the season starts

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) What’s the best way to prevent sports injuries? No one has found the magic answer yet, and pre-season fitness doesn’t seem to matter much either. A recent study tested athletic strength in pre-season to see if it predicted later injury. 

Results found no link between pre-season fitness and later sports injury.

"For sports injuries, seek medical help ASAP!"

Michael Kennedy, PhD, professor in the physical education and recreation department at the University of Alberta in Canada, led an investigation into whether pre-season fitness can prevent sports injuries.

For the study, researchers checked the pre-season fitness of six varsity teams. The sports teams included male and female basketball, volleyball and ice hockey.

Total numbers of athletes was 86, with 23 male and 18 female hockey players, 14 male and 10 female volleyball players and 9 male and 12 female basketball players.

Researchers measured for risk for injury, amount of time until injury and level of pre-season fitness.

Pre-season fitness was measured by range of motion, push-ups, curl-ups, vertical jump, agility and sit-and-reach.

At least one injury was reported by 76 percent of the athletes at the time of the test. Women were injured nearly 26 percent earlier in the season then men.

Most of the injuries were new ones, but 29 percent were recurrent. The majority of the injuries were muscle or tendon strains in the legs.

Researchers found no indication that could predict the severity of the injury.

The volleyball players were more likely to get injured earlier in the season than the hockey or basketball players.

Dr. Kennedy said, “Our study attempted to answer the question whether fitter athletes are more resilient to injury than less fit athletes.”

“We know from our data that differences exist between risk of injury in pre-season training, regular season training and actual games.”

“However most importantly our data clearly show that time to first injury for athletes is more heavily influenced by gender and sport than pre-season fitness.”

This study was published in the July issue of Sports Medicine, Arthroscopy, Rehabilitation, Therapy & Technology. No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were found.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
July 31, 2012
Last Updated:
May 13, 2013