Getting injured doing sports is one of the most common topics of discussion among people doing any type of sport — contact sports, endurance sports, weightlifting, etc. There are many kinds of injuries, some of them are preventable, some of them are not, and in this article we are going to focus on the injuries that we can and should attempt to prevent.
Apart from wearing safety gear e.g. helmets, shin guards, groin guards, lifting belts and so on, the main thing we have to do to get less injured is get a body that is less prone to injury. Obviously, a stronger body, with more muscle, with stronger tendons, and heavier bones, with all thing being equal is on average going to get less injured, than a body with little muscle, weak tendons, and light bones. As much as we like doing our sports that are super fun (for me, atleast) — like ski-touring, mountain biking, Jiu-jitsu, or soccer, it would suit us best to get strong before we start heavily engaging in these sports.
Fortunately or not, there is pretty much only one way to get strong overall, and that is strength training, and that means going to the gym and spending a year or so on a good strength training programme that will put your bodyweight 15-30% above your current lean weight. This means that if you’re a 75kg male at 180cm, you should be at least 85kg (95kg is better) before you approach any sport in a serious manner, and by serious I mean you actually train at least twice a week. If you’re a 50kg female at 165cm, 60kg would be a very good weight to start doing other sports actively.
The good thing about strength training is that it is applicable to anyone. Young adults, very old adults, active people, sedentary people. Anyone can start by performing the most simple barbell exercise, and add weight bit by bit, until the point where they need more complicated programme to drive their strength forward. It is at this point that one may put their strength training on maintenance level and pursue the sport that they really love head on.
The Functionality of Strength
Physical strength is really the cornerstone of all sports and active movement. People who are not strong get injured all the time, even doing them most basic things, for example lifting a box that is heavier than usual without knowledge of proper form. But when you start doing things that are more demanding than lifting a box, your strength becomes something that both protects you, and gives you an edge in your performance in all sports and activities, with the possible exception of super long distance running.
The Strength Training Environment
The main difference between strength training and other types of training and sports is that the former allows to train in an environment that is almost entirely under our control. We know how much we will lift, we know how many times, we know the perfectly correct way lift in order to minimise injury and maximise our strength over time. This is entirely opposed to things like boxing or rugby, where the amount of things that are hard to predict, the amount of variable is almost infinite, as is the amount of ways you can get hurt, even during simple 50% sparring.
So if you are weak — and there is no shame in admitting that — it is best to raise your strength in a controlled environment with the help of a good coach that will put you on a good programme, rather than jumping into a sport that you are not physically prepared for and end up getting injured in the first few months of training.
I am aware that there are multiple example of people who have not done any strength training before going into say, taekwondo and didn’t really get hurt, but the reality is that those people were probably already stronger than most for various reasons and also got lucky. The significant proportion of modern people are quite weak, and would benefit very much from even the most basic training of their strength.
Train Your Strength for a Year
If there is a sport that you really like and have been recently engaged in, you should seriously consider putting it on hold before you raise your strength to an optimal level in order to prevent injury, and just be stronger than the rest of the people you are going to train with.