The root causes of injuries in elite sports and how to prevent them

With workload management more difficult than ever, tackling injuries is of prime importance for elite athletes.

Published : May 26, 2023 14:43 IST - 3 MINS READ

Painful moments: Paul Pogba of Juventus reacts after going down with an injury during a Serie A match.
Painful moments: Paul Pogba of Juventus reacts after going down with an injury during a Serie A match. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Painful moments: Paul Pogba of Juventus reacts after going down with an injury during a Serie A match. | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Understanding the importance of fitness in professional sports is not rocket science. Injuries are part and parcel of any sport and can teach athletes to step up their level or get completely sidelined and end their careers.

There are some remarkable examples in both cases, and we shall dwell on how to prevent and identify injuries in the earlier stages and come out of it successfully.

The reasons for repetitive injuries are of great concern in recent times in spite of having loads of support staff and embracing the latest technology in sports science.

Why is it so and what may be the reason for it? These are pertinent questions that have raised many eyebrows in recent times. There are many points to ponder to find a remedial measure to curtail it and make the players robust to play all games full throttle.

Different sports have different types of injuries depending on various factors, ranging from acute and chronic to career or life-threatening injuries. We shall look at the common factors related to all sports in relation to repetitive injuries.

Root causes:

1. Unscientific way of training, improper form and technique, wrong choice of exercise and movement mechanics, and finally, unprofessional process and protocols.

2. Workload management — getting the wrong end of the stick with regards to crunching data and inference from it.

3. Identifying the niggle in the initial stages before it becomes a serious injury.

4. Lack of screening and assessment protocols, not properly monitored and executed for each player.

5. Failure in incorporating proper recovery protocols in place.

6. Lack of sleep.

7. Dehydration and improper dietary habits.

8. Too many fitness components.

9. Wrong mechanics in movement or skill set.

10. Improper warm-up and cooling down.

11. Lack of proper equipment to train.

12. Unable to identify the probability of injury due to certain deficiencies such as muscle imbalance, structural issues, movement issues and more.

13. Premature specialisation in training module without proper foundation on balance, stability and execution of good form in exercise pattern in the initial stages.

14. Too much borrowed knowledge from other sport without validating the cause and effect of the exercise prescription.

15. One exercise pattern for all skill set and individuals.

16. Negating finer movements for gross movement.

17. Human error in identifying niggles, acute and chronic injuries.

18. Improper gear during the game or training mode.

19. Lack of accountability among support staff with regards to injury or performance is one of the major pointers to be noted cutting across any sport.

Prevention modules:

1. Proper testing and assessment protocols at regular intervals.

2. A fitness plan that includes various components of fitness specific to the sport and even more specific to the skill.

3. Individual fitness plans according to individual’s periodic regime.

4. Cool down correctly after exercise or sports.

5. Stay hydrated. Drink water to prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.

6. Proper nutrition pre/during/post fitness regime or game or skill time.

7. Incorporating proper foolproof recovery protocols and workload management.

8. Using the right equipment or gear. Proper shoes that give support and that may correct certain foot problems that can lead to injury.

9. Master the form of exercising and then move on to progression on all components of fitness. Do what is required for the sport and skill.

10. Never push through the pain barrier, which can be a major cause of injuries.

11. Consulting and engaging proper professionals, be it a sports medicine doctor or physio or massage therapist or an S&C coach.

12. Set up short/mid- and long- term goals and work towards it.

Maintaining a proper workout log can provide a wider perspective with good data to fall back for identifying performance and injuries at an early stage.

More stories from this issue

Sign in to unlock all user benefits
  • Get notified on top games and events
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign up / manage to our newsletters with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early bird access to discounts & offers to our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide to our community guidelines for posting your comment