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Dragon boat, Figure skating, Sport, Uncategorized

Why sports injuries keep happening despite research to prevent them

I’m known for doing research. I read a lot of academic research papers on training and injuries as they relate to things like the sports I coach. But I’m lucky. 1) I have access to academic databases so I can get that research that is located behind the paywalls of journals and 2) I have enough academic background that I can decipher what can be some pretty undecipherable writing. You could also add a third point, I actually enjoy doing this background reading. But the reality is that many individuals involved in sport whether they be athletes, coaches, administrators, or policy makers are missing at least one of those three points. But it isn’t just their fault, as Hanson, Allegrante, Sleet and Finch (2014) argue, there is also a problem because the individuals doing the research aren’t talking to the practitioners, policy makers, and communities about what the problems are.  They also, as is the nature of science, tend to study things like sports injuries in controlled, reductionist (studying the parts to understand the whole) settings.

One example of this disconnect is the use of an articulated figure skate. Figure skates are known to be incredibly stiff, inflexible pieces of equipment. This stiffness has been linked to lower body injuries in the sport. As a result, Bruening and Richards (2006) studied the effects of a figure skating boot that was articulated at the ankle. Off ice simulations showed improvements in the amount of force the foot experienced, but there was really no change to on-ice jumps. Of course, when you have spent your entire career training to jump in one particular way, it is very difficult to change that just for a research study (just ask my fitness trainer who has to keep reminding me how “normal people” jump). And the authors do acknowledge this.

We need to recognize the complexity of sport and sport injury and as Hanson et al state “it is not enough to understand what should be done but rather to understand what can be done and how it needs to be done” (p. 683).

About Tai Munro

I am passionate about making science, sustainability, and sport accessible through engaging information and activities.

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