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Injury Prevention. Not Injury Reduction

I, as well as other Strength and Conditioning Specialists often use the words Injury Prevention when describing one portion of our training philosophies and programming.  Well, this isn’t exactly true. 

Injury Prevention by definition is:  an effort to prevent or reduce the severity of bodily injuries caused by external mechanisms, such as accidents, before they occur. Injury prevention is a component of safety and public health, and its goal is to improve the health of the population by preventing injuries and hence improving quality of life.

Let’s get this straight and out of the way…You can’t prevent injuries. But you can take steps to reduce injuries. You can reduce their occurrence and/or their severity. And that is the primary reason players should strength train and condition… ‘injuryreduction.’ Reducing occurrence and severity of injuries is the foundation of why I do what I do.

One of the most recent injuries came to Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls.  If injuries can be prevented, don’t you think the best trainers in the world would make this possible?  Injuries happen.  Without strength training, the probability of injury increase dramatically. 

When a player gets inured, all we see is the result. We all need to consider the myriad of things in which could contribute to the injury occurrence:

  1. Muscle Imbalances
  2. Poor Posture or Gait
  3. Previous Injuries
  4. Cumulative Fatigue
  5. Genetic Variations

As a coach and trainer, I suggest you evaluate your current training program to answer the following questions:

  • Do you perform a thorough warm up before every practice and/or game?  Take the time to do so.  It prepares the body for performance.  Prepares the muscles and the mind to give it everything it’s got! Essential for any team and athlete. 
  • Do you perform sports specific strength and conditioning workouts with emphasis on the ankles/feet, knees, hips/groin, lower back and shoulders?  These areas need attention.  Your program should reflect this. 
  • Do you perform drills that focus on the sports specific movement patterns in which the athlete will succumb too?  Most drills don’t cover cutting, acceleration and deceleration, pivoting, jumping AND landing.  
  • Do you allow proper rest and recovery (mental and physical rest and recovery).  Rate of injury raises sharply when overly fatigued. 

Bottom line: We can’t prevent injuries.  Well, unless we are locked in a room with foam walls!  But we as strength coaches and athletes need to understand that WE CAN TAKE ACTION to reduce the likelihood of injury and increase the level of performance. Strength and Conditioning is ESSENTIAL for all athletes of all sports.  It’s the foundation to ensure the body performs at its optimal level. 

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