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Activity exposure and injury risk

This is an excerpt from Sport Injury Prevention Anatomy by David Potach & Erik Meira.

Participating in a physical activity over a prolonged period (i.e., several weeks or months) has the potential to reduce an athlete’s risk of injury. This prolonged exposure to the physical stress of both training and practicing a sport is an important part of injury prevention training. Consider every college or professional sport; each of those athletes trains during the offseason (training exposure) and then participates in a preseason camp (practice exposure). This is an important combination of activities for those athletes as they prepare for games and competition.

One recent attempt to explain the benefits of this exposure has been the acute–chronic workload ratio (ACWR) (Gabbett et al. 2019; Johansson et al. 2022). The ACWR considers what an athlete has done in recent training, such as the past week (acute workload), in relation to what has been done over a longer period, such as the past month (chronic workload). It posits that, if the acute workload increases too much in relation to what has been done over the longer period of time, injury risk increases. Although several articles have been written about this topic, research is mixed as to the benefits of its use and fail to show that there is a specific ratio that should be followed for all athletes. However, we do generally believe that the greater exposure an athlete has to workloads over a longer period of time, the less likely she is to develop an injury.

Designing injury prevention programs requires knowledge of exercise principles to result in the best outcomes for the participating athletes. Exercises should have some similarity to the movements of the given sport or activity and the muscles should perform similar functions. A variety of exercise types must be included and they must be taught in ways that maximize movement success. Combining all of these is the fun part of designing injury prevention programs! In the following chapters, specific injury prevention exercises will be presented and both the anatomy of the specific muscles involved and the types of muscle contractions will be noted. Most importantly, each exercise will highlight a specific injury it can help prevent.

More Excerpts From Sport Injury Prevention Anatomy