Pre-Season Fitness and Athletic Injuries

Posted on July 23 2012

Back-to-School season is just around the corner, and with the end of July also comes pre-season training for many school athletes. Recently, a study was conducted out of Canada to investigate any potential link between pre-season training, seasonal training, and actual games in the number of injuries suffered by college athletes each year.

The study began with a pre-participation fitness test for all athletes. During the fit test, their bodies were examined for flexibility, lower body strength, and anaerobic capacity. After the test had been completed, athletes went back to their regular training schedule. The study examined the time to injury between training and games, different competition sports, and gender in varsity athletes. Assessing, pre-season fitness activities in 6 different sporting areas, the researchers found that time to injury impacted female athletes more often than males.

In addition to the news that females become injured sooner in a sports season cycle than males, the study also pointed out that most injuries were associated with volleyball, and lower instances of injury showed up in sports like ice hockey and basketball. Further research found that 2/3 of athletes reported an injury during their regular playing seasons.

While comparing pre-season fitness to the gaming season, it was found that the only correlation to injury was having less upper body strength, which did not affect the majority of gaming season injuries, as many of those occurred in the lower extremities. The study also found that women acquired an injury about 40% of the way into the season, while men went on a little longer and acquired their injuries 66% of the way into their season. Most injuries consisted of strain in the lower extremities, specifically the legs and feet. Almost half of these injuries occurred during a pre-season practice. While more than half of injured athletes missed practice due to their injury, most were able to perform in their regular season games.

As mentioned before, most injuries were seen in volleyball players for both men and women. Women suffered the most injuries, and, within the sport of volleyball, injuries came faster for women, as well. For participants in female volleyball, injuries came less than 20% into the season, while in men's volleyball, their injuries were non-existent until around 35% of the season had gone by.

While the study was looking to find a link between pre-season fitness and injuries between more-fit and less-fit athletes, they found that there was no real difference. What did make the difference was gender and type of sport played. With ice hockey leading in the least amount of injuries, and also injuries appearing much later than in any other sports season (3/4 of the way into the season), the findings were a surprise to many. So, while you're buying school supplies, it might not be a bad idea to invest in a good brace for weak joints, a first aid cream for sore muscles, or at least some athletic tape - just in case!





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