The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

Jeppe Bo Lauersen, Ditte Marie Bertelsen, Lars Bo Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Background Physical activity is important in both prevention and treatment of many common diseases, but sports injuries can pose serious problems. Objective To determine whether physical activity exercises can reduce sports injuries and perform stratified analyses of strength training, stretching, proprioception and combinations of these, and provide separate acute and overuse injury estimates. Material and methods PubMed, EMBASE, Web of Science and SPORTDiscus were searched and yielded 3462 results. Two independent authors selected relevant randomised, controlled trials and quality assessments were conducted by all authors of this paper using the Cochrane collaboration domain-based quality assessment tool. Twelve studies that neglected to account for clustering effects were adjusted. Quantitative analyses were performed in STATAV.12 and sensitivity analysed by intention-to-treat. Heterogeneity (I2) and publication bias (Harbord's small-study effects) were formally tested. Results 25 trials, including 26 610 participants with 3464 injuries, were analysed. The overall effect estimate on injury prevention was heterogeneous. Stratified exposure analyses proved no beneficial effect for stretching (RR 0.963 (0.846-1.095)), whereas studies with multiple exposures (RR 0.655 (0.520-0.826)), proprioception training (RR 0.550 (0.347-0.869)), and strength training (RR 0.315 (0.207-0.480)) showed a tendency towards increasing effect. Both acute injuries (RR 0.647 (0.502-0.836)) and overuse injuries (RR 0.527 (0.373-0.746)) could be reduced by physical activity programmes. Intention-to-treat sensitivity analyses consistently revealed even more robust effect estimates. Conclusions Despite a few outlying studies, consistently favourable estimates were obtained for all injury prevention measures except for stretching. Strength training reduced sports injuries to less than 1/3 and overuse injuries could be almost halved.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Sports Medicine
Volume48
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)871-877
Number of pages7
ISSN0306-3674
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014

Bibliographical note

Published Online First 7 October 2013

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