Workout of the Day

The Best Way to Decrease Injury Risk


Conventional wisdom may tell you that the best way to prevent injury is a regular regimen of stretching and avoidance of overly strenuous activity. But, just like in many other areas of life, conventional wisdom fails us. It turns out, regular strength training might be your best defense against injury.

A meta-analysis that looked at the results of over 26,000 participants in injury-prevention-related studies found that strength training was the number one method for prevention of both overuse injuries and sports injuries. Strength training reduced the risk of sports injuries by more than 66%, and rate of overuse injuries were nearly halved by strength training. That’s huge! Other methods examined were proprioception training and multiple-exposure programs, which had statistically significant but less robust effects on injury prevention, and stretching, which didn’t have any statistically significant effect on injury prevention. No support for conventional wisdom there.

Now, before you apply these results of this meta-analysis directly to your life by abandoning any stretching and deadlifting heavy every day, let’s consider the implications.

First, it is clear that strength training is absolutely essential. If we step back and consider for a moment the mechanism of injury (a force that exceeds the strength of your tissues is applied to your tissues, either all at once or over an extended period), it makes sense that strength would be the number one line of defense. Put another way, a steel pipe is much less likely to bend or break than cardboard tube. I think it’s fair to conclude that strength training will benefit you, both in injury prevention and in many other ways.

Second, context matters. While this study did find “stretching” was an ineffective means of injury prevention, the methods used are not specified. Did they simply pull on their hamstrings, shoulders, quads, and calves for 30 seconds per side every day and call it good? It should come as no surprise that this did nothing to prevent injury. Was the practice individualized in any way? Was there attention given to increasing strength in end-range after stretching?

Perhaps a more movement-and-strength-based approach to “stretching” (we prefer to call this mobility) would yield better results. The old paradigm of “stretching” is slowly dying, and published research is only now catching up to modern practice (science takes time, remember). Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. We’ve seen, first hand, far too much benefit from an intentional and individualized mobility practice to say it’s not worth your time.

Finally, and somewhat counterintuitively, this study reinforces that injury happens, even to those of use following best practices for prevention. The best outcomes still included a mild-to-moderate rate of injury. We’re always on the hunt for the most effective and safest practices, but if you are using your body in any way, you’re probably going to get some bumps and bruises along the way. Don’t fret! Your body is an adapting machine. Just keep feeding it the right input.

Lift strong and prosper!

(P.S. You can read the study in full HERE)

- PS


  • For quality, EMOM 8

    • 2 hang squat snatch + 2 OHS


  • EMOM 10

    • 5 back squats