Behaviour, the key factor for sports injury prevention

Sports Med. 2010 Nov 1;40(11):899-906. doi: 10.2165/11536890-000000000-00000.


Safety in sports and physical activity is an important prerequisite for continuing participation in sports, as well as for maintenance of a healthy physically active lifestyle. For this reason, prevention, reduction and control of sports injuries are important goals for society as a whole. Recent advances in sports medicine discuss the need for research on real-life injury prevention. Such views call for a more behavioural approach when it comes to actual sports injury prevention. Nevertheless, the role of behaviour in sports injury prevention remains under-researched. In order to push the field of sports injury prevention forward, this article provides an overview of the relationship between behaviour and sports injury risk. Different types of behaviour relate to injury risk factors and injury mechanisms. Behaviour that influences risk factors and injury mechanisms is not confined only to the athlete. Various types of behaviour by, for example, the coach, referee, physical therapist or sports associations, also influence risk factors and injury mechanisms. In addition, multiple behaviours often act together. Some types of behaviour may directly affect injury risk and are by definition a risk factor. Other behaviours may only affect risk factors and injury mechanisms, and influence injury risk indirectly. Recent ideas on injury prevention that call for studies on real-life injury prevention still rely heavily on preventive measures that are established through efficacy research. A serious limitation in such an approach is that one expects that proven preventive measures will be adopted if the determinants and influences of sports safety behaviours are understood. Therefore, if one truly wants to prevent sports injuries in a real-life situation, a broader research focus is needed. In trying to do so, we need to look at lessons learned from other fields of injury prevention research.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*