Which factors influence injury prevention

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Kevin Mangelschots

There are a lot of different factors that influence injury prevention.

Unfortunately, life doesn’t always work out the way we want it to. It’s the same regarding accidents. Every person, especially passionate athletes who exercise regularly, will experience unfortunate injuries at some point in their lives.

While we can’t control everything and guarantee ourselves to be harm free our whole life, there are a number of things we can do to reduce the risk of harming ourselves.

  • Muscular strength

    Picture of a man performing a deadlift.

    More muscular strength means less stress being placed on the joints and bones. Thus, this protects the skeletal structure. Strong muscles and tendons keeps the bones and joints in place during movements.

    Being sufficiently strong also allows you to use the correct technique during exercises and your daily activities. When we’re not powerful enough, we tend, or even have to compensate by using improper technique to lift heavy objects during our daily activities.

    That’s why we need to learn how to become stronger and more muscular so that we have the required force to prevent injuries in the process of exercising.

    Because over time, incorrect technique will inevitably lead to injuries. No matter how large, or strong you may be.

  • Muscular size

    Image of the rearview of a man flexing his upper back and arm muscles.

    Muscular size is closely related to muscular strength. That’s why it’s essential to prevent injuries.

    A bigger muscle has a larger amount of muscle fibers. So generally speaking, the bigger a muscle is, the more potential it has to contract, producing more strength in the process.

    A larger amount of muscle mass can also help protect bones and joints from impact injuries. Seeing as, the muscles will absorb part of the contact.

  • Bone strength

    Lifting weights, but also exercising in general, increases bone density and the strength of our bones.

    A stronger, denser bone means there’s less chance of fracturing or breaking the bone when exercising, or on impact.

    All forms of exercise are effective at increasing bone strength. Particularly resistance training such as weightlifting, or even plyometrics.

  • Tendon strength

    Lifting weights and exercising in general increases tendon strength.

    A stronger, denser tendon has less chance of tearing. Tendon strength is harder to develop than muscular strength, and needs a lot more repetitions than muscle fibers in order to evolve strong connective tissue.

  • Flexibility

     

    A flexible woman holding a stretching pose.

    Flexibility throughout the full range of motion of our joints is necessary in order for joints, muscles, and tendons to stay at their normal, healthy length and to be able of contracting to their full potential.

    When a muscle is shortened, it’ll lead to incorrect posture and thus, eventually to injuries over time.

    Let me give you an example. Think about the artificially shortened biceps muscle when being put in a cast or sling after breaking your elbow joint.

    After several weeks of not being allowed to move that arm, the range of motion of your elbow joint will be greatly reduced and muscles will have noticeably atrophied. This is why physiotherapy is usually prescribed in those cases. To increase the range of motion (ROM) and to increase muscular strength and size.

    Increasing flexibility is best done by performing a static stretching routine multiple times a week. Although studies have shown that dynamic stretching can also be effective at increasing the range of motion of the muscles.

  • Workload capacity

    Workload capacity is the total amount of volume that your body can handle and adequately recover from.

    For instance, a weightlifting program with a progressively increasing amount of reps and sets will lead to an increased workload capacity due to more overall workout volume.

    This increased workload capacity means that your body can handle more total stress, and recover faster in between sets and workouts.

Most important training factors that influence injury prevention

  • Warm up/cool down

    Picture of a woman stretching in front of a field of grass.

    One of the best ways to reduce the chance of sustaining injuries is warming up properly before moving on to exercising intensively.

    A proper warm up increases the blood flow throughout the body, which prepares our muscles for the increased, intense physical activity that lies ahead. You should never lift, run, or exercise at a high intensity in general without warming up. That’s because exerting yourself too hard without warming up beforehand increases the chance of acquiring injuries. That’s why warm up sets are so essential before weightlifting.

    A lot of traumas that happen could’ve been prevented if we had performed a proper warm up.

    A cool down in the form of walking or stretching after working out has been proven to help release the lactic acid that builds up in the muscles during exercising.

    This means you’ll be able to recover faster in between your workout sessions, while simultaneously aiding to reduce potential delayed onset muscle soreness. (DOMS.)

  • Technique

    Proper technique is important to prevent injuries. Whether it’s using the correct method when lifting, the right way when running, or even just lifting stuff from the ground.

    As a matter of fact, a lot of the injuries we sustain come from continuous improper posture or continuously using wrong lifting techniques during our everyday activities.

    No matter how big and strong you are, poor proficiency will sooner rather than later lead to accidents. So always invest in studying and learning the proper form first!

Most important recovery factors that influence injury prevention

  • Food

     

    A plate of healthy food.

    A healthy diet should consist of a high amount of protein, especially if you’re looking to build muscle mass. Research suggests that an adequate amount of protein helps to lose weight. And whether we know it or not, lots of people are actually not consuming enough protein in their daily diets.

    Carbohydrates are your best friend if you’re an athlete looking to optimize your performance. Because your muscles need the energy that the carbs provide in order to perform to the best of your abilities.

  • Sleep

    Getting enough hours of sleep is one of the best, and most underrated recovery factors to prevent injuries.

    Each human being needs at least 8 hours of sleep each night in order to function optimally.

    Although it’s possible to function with only a few hours of sleep, it’s still not optimal and will hinder both your training and your ability to recover from your workouts as well.

    Try going to, and getting out of bed at a fixed time in order to improve your sleep schedule and your overall sleep quality. Your body, but also your mind will thank you for it.

  • Rest days

    Picture of a man on armchair resting on balcony, fall season during day.

    Rest days and injury prevention go hand in hand.

    A body grows fitter, stronger and bigger when resting and recovering. Not when performing the exercise itself. Note: This isn’t me recommending people to turn into a couch potato!

    This process of rebuilding your muscles a bit fitter, stronger, or bigger than before working out what we call supercompensation. This is a large part of recovery, and permits us to get in better shape than before.

    Without an adequate amount of rest days, your central nervous system will start to overload, especially when powerlifting. When this happens, you’ll actually get weaker rather than stronger. That’s because your body is quite literally burned out. To combat this and prevent yourself from accumulating injuries from intense workouts, rest days are in order.

  • Deload

    A deload is a predetermined, programmed phase in your workout routine wherein you lower the weights and adjust the amount of sets/reps you perform. A deload week is an alternative to taking a week off, and serves the purpose of preventing physical trauma. The deload’s goal is basically the same as a week without training is. To give your body some time to recover.

    You could compare a deload to an active recovery phase, like walking is to a running program. We want to get the blood flowing to aid recovery, but without the intense, or large volume that exhausts our muscles and cardiovascular system.

  • High intensity and low intensity days

    Picture of men and women in a gym class exercising.

    The engine of a car that’s constantly running at its maximum capacity is sooner rather than later going to give out.

    It’s a bit of the same with regard to the human body. In order to prevent us from burning out, we should program high intensity days and low intensity days in our workout program.

    Alternating high and low intensity days gives our body a chance to recover in the in between workouts.

  • Work capacity

    Work capacity means how much volume your body can handle and adequately recover from between workout sessions.

    This means that our work capacity is directly related to our ability to train hard and recover in between our sets and workouts.

    Increasing your work capacity can be accomplished by gradually increasing the volume or intensity you perform during your workouts. Either by increasing the amounts of reps, sets, shortening the rest times in between sets, increasing the weights, or potentially all of the above.

Other factors that influence injury prevention

  • Age

     

    Image of an older man holding a cane.

    Age also plays an important role in injury prevention.

    Older people have less bone density, less muscle mass, and less overall strength than their younger peers.

    This overall physical deterioration that happens naturally when we get older means that older folks are at an increased risk of sustaining injuries. To combat this, exercising has been proven to increase bone density, strength, and muscle mass.

    This means that working out is effectively the cure for aging gracefully and in order to prevent age related harm. Although father time is unbeaten, and aging is inevitable for each one of us.

  • Gender

    In general, men are stronger than women.

    The average man has larger bones, a thicker bone density, more muscle mass, and more strength than the average women.

    This means that women are at an increased risk of sustaining injuries compared to men when performing the same intensity of exercise.

Conclusion

Image of the word, “conclusions” written on a black backboard with white chalk.

While most people view accidents as having a physical cause, in reality it’s often times a combination of poor recovery, non-optimal training, poor technique, and many other possible factors.

Injury prevention is part of staying healthy, and we should take it seriously, since we only have one body during our time on this planet.

Improving in areas wherein you’re performing poor or suboptimal will likely help you to live a healthier life, and to prevent future traumas.