As I’ve evolved in my career, I’ve adopted a non-bullshit approach to fitness, strength and conditioning, and performance training.
Several years back, I marketed youth camps with the grandiose phrase “injury prevention” to lure parents into believing I was a magical being who could keep their child healthy with the point of a wizard stick.
And boom. A few kids still got injured.
What was going on here? Was I not the wizard I said I was? Was it possible to prevent injury? Even with perfect programming?
Okay, you may get pissed at me for saying this but…I truly believe “injury prevention” programs are bullshit.
What strength coaches really mean to say is “reduce chance of injury” or “make kids less injury prone” or I don’t know, “get athletes as strong as Bane.”
As much research as there is behind strength, proprioception, plyometric, balance, and postural training, injury can still happen.
What the fuck is right.
Now this isn’t to take away from the benefits of strength training. I am a proponent of getting under the iron and becoming a beast. Not only is it good for reducing chance of injury, it’s amazing for confidence, performance, power output, and beating bitches up on the field.
However, I’d be remiss not to say athletes are not totally immune from injury.
So you can deadlift 1.5 times your bodyweight? Or you can do do a single foot depth jump with no knee valgus while reciting calculus equations? Or you can hip thrust 300 pounds with total ass tension? Cool. You’ve reduced your chances of getting injured, but you’re still not 100% immune.
Before you kill me, let’s get right into the other factors that play a part injury:
- Quality of sleep before training or competition
- Stress levels before training or competition
- Playing surface (the human foot is NOT meant to walk or run on artificial surfaces)
- Biomechanical profile (example: some athletes have tighter pectoralis muscles than others, which causes poor thoracic spine function, which leads to imbalances in the hips)
- Body composition (higher body fat % may cause whacky compensations in posture and intermuscular firing)
- Anatomy (pelvic width, femur length, tibia shape, ligament laxity)
- Intrinsic biomechanics (example: rotated pelvis which causes a drop on one side, making one leg appear longer than other. This can lead to hamstring, knee, and back injury.)
- Sex (example: females have wider Q-angle between hips and knee, which causes more force and less stability around the knee joint)
Needless to say, isn’t the human body a fascinating place to live?
Now I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer in this article, but I want to be up front and honest about the reality of injuries in sports.
Injury prevention is a downright lie. And if you think otherwise, I challenge you to refute human anatomy, intrinsic biomechanics, psychological stress, and luck.
Personally, there once was a time when I deadlifted 1.5 times my body weight, could Turkish Get Up 28kg, could perform 8 bodyweight pull ups with ease, and made the YoYo conditioning test my bitch.
Alas, I still got injured.
Devastated and frustrated were certainly understatements. I worked my tail off for 4 months to prepare for my semi-professional summer season, only to hear to a cringeworthy “pop” in my knee that put me into indescribable pain.
I wanted to punch a wall. I wanted to break up with my boyfriend. I wanted to eat Ben N’ Jerry’s ice cream to the face and watch The Notebook.
However, I accepted that sooooooo many factors went into this knee tear, namely, the bitch who slide-tackled me from behind and caused my knee to twist. Luck was not on my side.
And I know it suckssssssssss to work so hard in all facets of performance training – strength, power, balance, proprioception, postural stability, mobility, etc – only to find yourself out for a year from injury.
But remember, so much is going on beyond our control, but we always do our *best* to be less prone.
Injury prevention, therefore, does not exist. The end.