Sports Injury Screenings: Prevent and Perform

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throughout the season?

sports injury screenings

Injuries to an athlete across any sport can do more than just hurt! There’s the kick back of reduced team performance, changed team dynamics, more costs and frustratingly this often leads to further injuries to occur. Injury screening as a prevention strategy has been emphasised amongst professional teams and is beginning to be pushed more in pathway programs of our best junior talent.

Having said that, there have been some notable Physiotherapists and Sports Physicians that have questioned the effectiveness of the current injury prediction screening programmes in place (Bahr, 2016). The team at Peak MSK, Av and Jayce, unpacked some of the recent research and commentaries over a few coffees and present our thoughts below.

A 2015 (McCall et al, 2015), review of the injury prevention strategies of all 32 participating nations (including Australia!) at the FIFA 2014 Soccer World Cup, found the top 3 injury risk assessments used were:

1. Player flexibility (27/32 of teams)
2. Athlete physical fitness (24/32 of teams)
3. Player joint mobility and function (20/32 of teams)

One issue, just like the UN, across the world there are lots of different injury screening, and not one test was agreed by all the countries! So where to start? Do we just ‘bin’ the concept?

In our professional experience we believe these tests can be used to guide season preparation and maintenance throughout the season. Testing player fitness and movements, though muscle load control, agility and timing gives a view of potential problems, how that may impact on sport skills and possible injury. Physiotherapists challenge the player’s body in a safe environment and this cues them, the player and coach into whether a muscle under performs for the task. If these functional tests are performed poorly it provides important information to design a physiotherapy programme.

Essentially injury prevention strategies are about identifying muscles, ligaments and tendons that are likely to be injured and providing exercise, muscle therapy and or sports tape to reduce the risk of injury. This could be the difference between someone playing a fun full season of sport, or being injured in the 3rd round and watching from the sidelines, losing fitness and game skills and not returning to peak condition that season.

The age old adage may still ring true today, with a minor adjustment. Preparation is still better than the cure. If you have any questions get in touch and Av and Jayce are ready to help!

Bahr, R. (2016). Why screening test to predict injury do not work and probably never will: a critical review. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(13), 776-80.
McCall, A., Davison M., Anderson, T. E., Beasley, I., Bizzini, M., Dupont, G., Duffield, R., Carling, C. & Dvořák, J. (2015). Injury prevention strategies at the FIFA 2014 World Cup: perceptions and practices of the physicians from the 32 participating national teams. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 49, 603-608.

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* Conferred by Fellowship of the Australian College of Physiotherapists in 2010