Interventions to prevent sports related injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

Sports Med. 2014 Apr;44(4):473-86. doi: 10.1007/s40279-013-0136-8.


Background: The effects of methods to prevent injuries have been studied in several systematic reviews. However, no meta-analysis taking into account all randomised controlled intervention trials aiming at the prevention of sports injuries has been published.

Objective: To summarise the effects of sports injury prevention interventions.

Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.

Data sources: PubMed, MEDLINE, SPORTDiscus, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, CINAHL, PEDro, and Web of Science, searched in September 2013. The reference lists of retrieved articles and reviews were hand searched.

Eligibility criteria for selecting studies: To be selected articles had to examine the effects of any preventive intervention on sports injuries, be randomised/quasi-randomised and controlled trials, published in a peer-reviewed journal. The outcome of the trial had to be injury rate or the number of injured individuals.

Results: Of the 5580 articles retrieved after a search of databases and the relevant bibliography, 68 randomised controlled trials were included in the systematic review and 60 trials were included in the meta-analysis. Insoles (OR 0.51, 95% CI 0.32-0.81), external joint supports (OR 0.40, 95% CI 0.30-0.53), and specific training programmes (OR 0.55, 95% CI 0.46-0.66) appeared to be effective in reducing the risk of sports injuries. Stretching (OR 0.92, 95% CI 0.80-1.06), modified shoes (OR 1.23, 95% CI 0.81-1.87), and preventive videos (OR 0.86, 95% CI 0.44-1.68) seemed not to be effective.

Conclusions: This meta-analysis showed that certain interventions can reduce the risk of sports injuries. There were limitations regarding the quality of the trials, generalisability of the results, and heterogeneity of the study designs. In future, the mechanisms behind effective methods and the most beneficial elements of preventive training programmes need to be clarified.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Joints / injuries
  • Orthotic Devices
  • Physical Education and Training
  • Protective Devices
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Shoes
  • Sports Equipment
  • Warm-Up Exercise