Strength and conditioning is closely associated with sports, and athletes at every level incorporate strength and conditioning programs into their training regimens. Yet, the benefits of strength and conditioning can be applied to all levels of exercise, especially when it comes to minimizing injuries.
Below we have listed 8 key reasons on how strength and condition helps prevent injuries. But before you proceed, you ought to first bear in mind the pointers we outlined in ‘6 Tips to Avoid Injuries While Exercising’.
Increases Ligament and Tendon Strength
A big part of strength and conditioning is resistance training. According to the study Value of Resistance Training for the Reduction of Sports Injuries, resistance training “promotes growth and/or increases in the strength of ligaments, tendons, tendon to bone and ligament to bone junction strength, joint cartilage, and the connective tissue sheaths within muscle.” This helps minimize ligament and tendon injuries, like tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon) or ligament sprains and tears.
Increases Bone Mineral Density
The study ‘Exercise and Bone Strength’ reveals that exercise enhances bone strength by increasing bone mineral density (BMD). Overloading is necessary to stimulate BMD gains, and this can be best done via strength and conditioning, specifically weightlifting. Stronger bones, in turn, are less vulnerable to injury, like fractures.
Improves Athletic Performance
Often injuries are caused by bad falls and awkward movements due to lack of balance and coordination. By incorporating strength and conditioning into your workouts, you will be able to improve both your balance and coordination. Resistance exercises build strength and balance by having you control either your body weight or a mechanical load such as a heavy plate or a dumbbell. The single leg squat is highly recommended by Very Well Fit in this regard, as this exercise is “one of the best ways to develop strength, balance, and coordination.” Strength and conditioning enhances your overall athletic performance through improving your ability to move freely and fluidly during different exercise movements.
Ensures Proper Form
Often, injuries occur because of poor mechanics. The classic example of this is performing weighted squats with the back improperly aligned or lifting a heavy load by bending at the hips rather than squatting. Sometimes, these gaffes happen due to lack of knowledge, but other times, they occur because one does not have the strength required to complete the movement properly. Poor mechanics will become less of a problem when you include strength and conditioning into your fitness regimen. The stronger your muscles become, the more you will be able to perform your exercises with proper form.
WebMD notes that strength training can improve flexibility, sometimes even better than stretching. The key, though, is making sure that you focus on a full range of motion. Flexible muscles, in turn, allow you to move without overstretching and injuring yourself. In contrast, tight and stiff muscles and tendons are often pushed beyond their natural range of movement, which often can lead to injuries.
Addresses Muscle Imbalances
A muscle imbalance happens when one muscle in a pair is stronger than the other. Muscle imbalances typically lead to injuries as the weaker muscle tends to tire out easily and are more prone to wear and tear. Even the stronger muscle can be vulnerable to injury when it tries to compensate for the weaker muscle. Isolated strength and conditioning exercises, such as the single leg squat, can help correct these imbalances and thus minimize your risks of sustaining muscle-related injuries.
Enhances Core Strength
Most movements originate from your core, which means a strong core is critical to perform various moves with force and explosiveness. Moreover, a strong core improves balance, stability, and flexibility, all of which help in minimizing your risk of getting various injuries, like muscles strains and sprains.
Decreases Overuse Injuries
Overuse injuries are common to fitness enthusiasts who frequently work out most days of the week. Doing strength and conditioning, though, has been shown to minimize your risk to such injuries. This is especially true when you perform motion-specific resistance training activities as these will help your muscles gradually get used to certain movements.
Given these injury reducing benefits, it is no wonder that strength and conditioning has long been considered vital in the world of sports. Even athletes competing in sports that aren’t particularly fast paced or physically demanding benefit from strength training. Professional golfer Rory McIlory, under the tuition of Dr. Steve McGregor, incorporated strength exercises into his training routine to better protect himself from injury. Dr. McGregor told Coach Mag that he worked on increasing McIlroy’s leg strength to help protect his spine and give him more “stability and support”. While McIlory has reached the top of his sport, he also showed that all the strength and conditioning training in the world can’t 100% protect against injury. Ladbrokes detailed how McIlroy injured his ankle playing soccer with friends in 2015, demonstrating how injuries are a major hazard for all sports stars. While no one is injury proof, strength and conditioning can go a long way in preventing damage to the body.
Even non-athletes are at risk of getting injured, especially those who are trying their hardest to get in the best shape of their life. The takeaway here, therefore, is quite simple. Strength and conditioning benefits everyone, not just elite level athletes at the professional level. It goes without saying then that you, too, should start incorporating it to your fitness routine as soon as possible.