How Multicomponent Preventative Training Can Help You Stay Injury Free
Kelsey Brown, BSc
April 13, 2023
All athletes carry out some form of regular training, be that resistance or endurance training, to gear them up for competition and to maintain their physique. One important training aspect that should be developed into an athlete's routine, is multicomponent injury-prevention training. This would usually run alongside their normal training regime and is performed to help decrease their risk of injury.
While this training is vital for athletes to ensure they are uninjured and able to compete, it is also something that anyone carrying out any form of training/exercise should consider doing. If you are regularly exercising, for example running a few times a week, you are at a greater risk of injuring yourself, so it is important to take measures to increase your protection.
Multicomponent injury prevention involves a combination of exercise types with the main aim of preventing injury. A statement on the prevention of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury recommends carrying out at least 3 of these exercise categories: strength, plyometrics, agility, balance and flexibility as part of injury prevention training. Ideally, these exercises would be performed with someone watching who can provide feedback on the technique of the movement, to allow improvements to be made and the actions to be performed safely.
Strength is an important component in many different sporting situations and having greater muscular strength can be beneficial for sport-specific skills such as jumping, sprinting and changing direction. Having greater strength also helps athletes perform better when manipulating their own body weight (e.g. gymnastics), someone else’s body weight (e.g. rugby) or an object (e.g. weightlifting).
As well as aiding performance, greater strength can reduce your risk of injury by strengthening tendons, increasing bone strength and reducing the load on joints to put less pressure on these areas and support exercise-related movements.
Strength training exercises can be carried out using your own body weight, free weights or machines. Some exercises to do as part of this category are:
- Chest press
- Calf raises
Plyometric exercises are explosive exercises used to improve strength, power output, coordination and performance. These exercises can be performed at varying intensities and largely involve sport-related movements such as jumping, hopping or skipping.
Regularly performing plyometric exercises can help to reduce the risk of injury by decreasing the force experienced when landing and strengthening muscles around joints to better stabilise them.
Some examples of plyometric exercises include:
- Countermovement jump, where you squat down and jump as high as possible from your squat
- Leg bounding where you hop forward from left to right keeping your balance
- High skips, where you skip and push yourself up as high as you can
Agility is an athlete’s ability to move and change direction at speed while under control and can be seen in many sports, such as netball, rugby and tennis. Athletes may need to change direction quickly to dodge an opponent to avoid being tackled or to get into space to receive the ball.
Carrying out agility training helps to improve your coordination, body position and movement patterns, which all contribute to safely performing sports movements, thereby reducing the risk of injury.
To improve your agility you can carry out exercises such as:
- High knees, where you run lifting your knees high with each step
- Shuttle runs, which involve running backwards and forward as fast as possible
- Running between cones and quickly changing direction in a zig-zag pattern
Balance is the ability to maintain your postural stability while stationary or in motion often to prevent you from falling. Training your balance contributes to improving your ankle stability, joint position and postural sway, which can all help to optimise your performance and can be used in the prevention of and rehabilitation from injury.
Some good exercises to do that can train your balance are:
- Standing on a balance board while throwing and catching a ball, try this with both feet on the board and with either foot on the board
- Single leg deadlift
- Reverse lunge
Flexibility is the range of motion an athlete has and is dependent on their skeletal muscles and tendons' ability to lengthen, and how easily these movements occur. A study examining the effects of flexibility training on muscle damage found that it increased the range of motion of the hip and suggested that flexible muscles are less susceptible to exercise-induced muscle damage.
Regular stretching can help to improve your flexibility, examples of some exercises are:
- Quad stretch
- Side stretch
- Glute bridge
The benefits of injury prevention training
The statement on the prevention of ACL injury recommends individuals carry out a variety of injury prevention exercises as highlighted above, 2-3 times a week. Doing this, even just for 15 minutes each time, can have several benefits such as reducing your risk of lower extremity knee, ACL and ankle injuries and improving your performance. Injury prevention training can help to improve balance, muscle activation, strength, power, and functional performance and can decrease landing impact forces.
Therefore, if you are regularly carrying out any form of exercise it is important to incorporate some form of injury prevention training into your routine. Doing so will help to strengthen your muscles, tendons and ligaments, allowing you to perform your actions safely and efficiently. This will ultimately reduce your risk of injury and can also help with the success of your performance.
Al Attar, W.S.A., Khaledi, E.H., Bakhsh, J.M., Faude, O. Ghulam, H., & Sanders, R.H. (2022). Injury prevention programs that include balance training exercises reduce ankle injury rates among soccer players: a systematic review. Journal of Physiotherapy. 68, (3), 165-173.
Brunner, R., Friesenbichler, B., Casartelli, N.C., Bizzini, M., Maffiuletti, N.A., & Niedermann, K. (2018). Effectiveness of multicomponent lower extremity injury prevention programmes in team-sport athletes: an umbrella review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 53, 282-288.
Chen, C., Nosaka, K., Chen, H., Lin, M., Tsend, K., & Chen, T.C. (2011). Effects of Flexibility Training on Eccentric Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage. Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. 491-500.
Dijksma, I., Perry, S., Zimmermann, W., Lucas, C., & Stuiver, M. (2019). Effects of Agility Training on Body Control, Change of Direction Speed and Injury Attrition Rates in Dutch aRecruits: A Pilot Study. Journal of Military and Veterans’ Health. 27, (2), 28-40.
Gleim, G.W., & McHugh, M.P. (1997). Flexibility and Its Effects on Spots Injury and Performance. Sports Med.24, (5), 289-299.
Hewett, T.E., Stroupe A.L., Nance, T.A., & Noyes, F.R. (1996). Plyometric training in Female Athletes. The American Journal of Sports Medicine. 24, (6), 765-773.
Lauersen, J.B., Andersen, T.E., & Andersen, L.B. Strength training as superior, dose-dependant and safe prevention of acute and overuse sports injuries: a systematic review, qualitative analysis and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 52, 1557-1563.
Myers, A.M., Beam, N.W., & Fakhoury, J.D. (2017) Resistance training for children and adolescents. Translational Pediatrics. 6, (3), 137-143.
Padua, D.A., DiStefano, L.J., Hewett, T.E., Garrett, W.E., Marshall, S.W., Golden, G.M., Shultz, S.J., & Sigward, S.M. (2018). National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Prevention of Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury. Journal of Athletic Training. 53, (1), 5-19.
Pollock, A.S., Durward, B.R., Rowe, P.J., & Paul, J.P. (2000). What is balance? Clinical Rehabilitation. 14, 402-406.
Sáez-Sáez de Villarreal, E., Requena, B., & Newton, R.U. (2010) Does plyometric training improve strength performance? A meta-analysis. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 13, 513-522.
Sporiš, G., Milanović, L., Jukić, I., Omrčen, D., & Molinuevo, J.S. (2010). The Effect of Agility Training on Athletic Power Performance. Kinesiology. 1, 65-72.
Suchomel, T.J., Nimphius, S., Bellon, C.R., & Stone, M.H. (2018). The Importance of Muscular Strength: Training Considerations. Sports Med. 48, (4), 765-785.
Suchomel, T.J., Nimphius, S., & Stone, M.H. (2016). The Importance of Muscular Strength in Athletic Performance. Sports Med. 46, 1419-1449.
Taylor, J.B., Waxman, J.P., Richter, S.J., & Shultz, S.J. (2013). Evaluation of the effectiveness of anterior cruciate ligament injury prevention programme training components: a systematic review and meta-analysis. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 1-10.
Zech, A., Hübscher, M., Vogt, L., Banzer, W., Hänsel, F., & Pfeifer, K. (2010). Balance Training for Neuromuscular Control and Performance Enhancement: A Systematic Review. Journal of Athletic Training. 45, (4), 392-403.