An extensive review conducted by Danish researchers has led them to recommend strength training and balance exercises over stretching as a way of preventing sports injuries, Reuters has reported.
The team was led by Jeppe Bo Lauersen from the Institute of Sports Medicine Copenhagen at Bispebjerg Hospital. The researchers analysed data from previous studies that mostly involved adult and teenage athletes. The participants in those studies were randomly assigned to groups that either did or did not complete certain exercises. The subjects were monitored after that for the purpose of recording injuries sustained over a specific period of time, the duration ranging from a couple of months to one year. The research team selected 25 study reports for its final analysis, combing through data obtained from a total of 26,610 participants. Among the study subjects were football, basketball and handball players, as well as army recruits. As for injuries, the researchers examined data on 3,464 traumas.
A review of three studies dealing with the effect of stretching programmes did not reveal any benefits for injury prevention. However, Lauersen and his team established quite the opposite when they examined six study reports on balancing exercises. These exercises, which are designed to improve joint stability, were found to reduce injury risk by 45%. In the case of strength training exercises, which aim to build muscle, an analysis of four study reports revealed a 68% decrease in injuries. The researchers concluded that such programmes were beneficial both for overuse and acute injuries.
Nevertheless, there are no studies dealing with specific strengthening or balance programmes, Lauersen said in an interview for Reuters Health. As a result, it´s not clear which particular exercises offer the best chance of preventing injuries.