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Getting strong: You can’t go wrong! Strength Training and injury prevention in sports

Published: 26 January 2022

Injuries are often part and parcel when it comes to competing in sports. Whether you’re a professional or amateur athlete, across all different disciplines of sport – it’s likely that you’ve experienced an injury at some point.

From football players to volleyball players, netball players and rugby athletes, our bodies experience injuries that can put us on the sidelines if we’re not careful.  

Injuries can range from a minor inconvenience, all the way to a season ending injury and while injuries are never completely unavoidable, there are ways to reduce the risk.

Strength training is an effective way to proactively minimise your risk of injury.  

Strength and resistance training for injury prevention has always been part of the sporting community, however, the extent of strength training can sometimes divide coaches and athletes.  

Studies in the 80’s already documented that athletes with a deeper background of weightlifting and resistance training, on average suffered less injuries compared to those who had no weightlifting or resistance training background [1].  

A more recent study, completed in 2018, shows that by athletes being introduced to strength training still holds a direct relationship to decreasing the risk and severity of injuries [2]. It also shows that strength training can lower that risk compared to other injury prevention strategies.

The trial looked at over 26,000 athletes presenting with 3464 injuries, and the results showed that the risk of re-injury was decreased to less than 1/3 in sports injuries and overuse injuries were almost halved when the athletes incorporated a strength training program.

The short summary is, you’re less likely to experience both a sports injury, or an overuse injury if you have strong muscles!  

How does strength training help reduce injury?

When an athlete is introduced to a strength and resistance training program,  the body goes through an adaptive physiological change. As dynamic load is placed on the body, changes in bone structure, muscle tissue, tendons and ligaments occur and the body becomes better conditioned to manage more load as time goes on.

As bones become denser, muscles become stronger and more capable, tendons and ligaments can support greater forces and your overall risk of injury decreases.

In other words, the more you train your body, the more capable it is to support dynamic movements with a lower risk of injury.

 How much resistance training should I be doing? And how much is too much?

This all depends on the type of sport played, the frequency of which is played and the athlete itself.  

While some sports generally require more strength (for example, AFL and rugby), muscle size doesn’t always translate to how strong an athlete can be – as it’s important to train the right muscle groups.  

The study mentioned before [2], shows us that the greater the intensity and volume of strength training, relates to a lower risk of injury in the sporting field. However, this doesn’t answer exactly how much strength training should be done.

It’s generally suggested that athletes should strength train 2-3 times per week, while managing their sport training – this is a good frequency while balancing cardiovascular and sports specific training.

However for the best results, you should get your physiotherapist to build you a tailored strength program for your sport and your individual goals!

Not only will a physiotherapist assist in guiding you on the right intensity and frequency in your training, but they will also be able to help you train the right muscles for your sport!

Here’s how Motion Health can help!

Free Initial assessment: Come in for a free initial assessment! If you are presenting with any pain or injuries, our physiotherapists can help you understand what lead to it.

Sports specific strength training plan: Our physiotherapists can build you a sports specific strength program, aimed at increasing your performance and lowering your risk of injury.

Regular review and maintenance: Our physiotherapists can help you set measurable goals and help you stay on track with your program, while tweaking your training based on your body’s feedback.  

Book in to your local Motion Health today and get started!


Hejna & Rosenberg, The prevention of sports injuries in high school, 1982

Lauersen, Bertelsen & Andersen, The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials, 2014.