Athletes' preseason fitness level may not impact injury risk

July 24, 2012

Topic: Orthopaedics

An athlete's level of physical fitness during the preseason period may not impact the risk of injury.

Researchers from the University of Alberta discovered that an athlete's preseason fitness level may have no influence on whether he or she sustains orthopaedics injuries once the season starts.

This conclusion is based on a study of individuals who participated in six varsity teams. Before the start of the athletic season, research subjects underwent several fitness assessments, including vertical jump tests, sit-ups, shoulder flexibility drills, agility exercises and other measurements.

Results showed that there was a strong connection between the time it took an athlete to experience his or her first injury during the season, and gender. On average, female subjects first got hurt about 40 percent of the way through the season, compared to 66 percent for males.

Furthermore, the time to first injury differed by sport. Specifically, mishaps occurred more quickly in volleyball than they did in basketball or hockey.

However, an athlete's fitness level before the start of the season was not an influential factor.

"The only association we found between preseason fitness and injury was that lower upper body strength, as evaluated by push-ups, was associated with a shorter time to injury - this was despite most of the injuries being associated with the lower body," said researcher Michael Kennedy.

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