Can the workload-injury relationship be moderated by improved strength, speed and repeated-sprint qualities?

J Sci Med Sport. 2019 Jan;22(1):29-34. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2018.01.010. Epub 2018 Feb 2.


Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate potential moderators (i.e. lower body strength, repeated-sprint ability [RSA] and maximal velocity) of injury risk within a team-sport cohort.

Design: Observational cohort study.

Methods: Forty male amateur hurling players (age: 26.2±4.4 year, height: 184.2±7.1cm, mass: 82.6±4.7kg) were recruited. During a two-year period, workload (session RPE×duration), injury and physical qualities were assessed. Specific physical qualities assessed were a three-repetition maximum Trapbar deadlift, 6×35-m repeated-sprint (RSA) and 5-, 10- and 20-m sprint time. All derived workload and physical quality measures were modelled against injury data using regression analysis. Odds ratios (OR) were reported against a reference group.

Results: Moderate weekly loads between ≥1400 AU and ≤1900 AU were protective against injury during both the pre-season (OR: 0.44, 95% CI: 0.18-0.66) and in-season periods (OR: 0.59, 95% CI: 0.37-0.82) compared to a low load reference group (≤1200 AU). When strength was considered as a moderator of injury risk, stronger athletes were better able to tolerate the given workload at a reduced risk. Stronger athletes were also better able to tolerate larger week-to-week changes (>550-1000 AU) in workload than weaker athletes (OR=2.54-4.52). Athletes who were slower over 5-m (OR: 3.11, 95% CI: 2.33-3.87), 10-m (OR: 3.45, 95% CI: 2.11-4.13) and 20-m (OR: 3.12, 95% CI: 2.11-4.13) were at increased risk of injury compared to faster athletes. When repeated-sprint total time (RSAt) was considered as a moderator of injury risk at a given workload (≥1750 AU), athletes with better RSAt were at reduced risk compared to those with poor RSAt (OR: 5.55, 95%: 3.98-7.94).

Conclusions: These findings demonstrate that well-developed lower-body strength, RSA and speed are associated with better tolerance to higher workloads and reduced risk of injury in team-sport athletes.

Keywords: Injury prevention; Odds-risk; Repeated-sprint ability; Speed; Strength.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Athletic Performance*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Sports
  • Workload*
  • Young Adult