PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE OF … ATHLETICS INJURY PREVENTION RESEARCH

In “past, present, future”, we ask clinical or academic experts to reflect on selected Sports & Exercise Medicine topics. Today Pascal Edouard on Athletics Injury Prevention Research.

 

Tell us more about yourself.

I am a Medical Doctor, University Professor and Hospital Practitioner in Physiology, focusing on Sports Medicine at the Jean Monnet University and University Hospital of Saint-Etienne in France. Clinically, I have been in charge of our Sports Medicine Unit since 2013, and I have a particular interest in managing athletics (track and field) athletes and female gymnasts. I also teach at the Faculty of Medicine Jacques Lisfranc in Saint-Etienne, where I deliver lectures on Exercise Physiology and Sports Medicine. Finally, my research activities at the Laboratoire Interuniversitaire de Biologie de la Motricité focus on injury prevention, particularly for athletics athletes and hamstring injuries.

Preamble

Athletics (Track and Field) is an Olympic sport practised worldwide, which includes different disciplines requiring running, jumping, and throwing. In the present BOSEM Blog, I will deal with the disciplines presented at the Olympics Games and not specifically discuss injury prevention research of road or trail running, which belong to athletics but represent, in my view, a specific topic.

 

What was athletics injury prevention ten years ago?

Ten years ago, some epidemiological studies and studies analysing athletics-related risk factors or mechanisms of injury, with mainly retrospective or cross-sectional designs, allowed a preliminary understanding of the extent of injury problems and their aetiology in athletics. Injury surveillance during international athletics (Olympic Games, World and European) championships also started at that time, allowing a better description of injuries in elite athletes within a competitive context. All these studies created the foundations for the methodological approach to injury data collection in athletics and the development of injury prevention strategies. And these works evoked injury prevention measures.

What are we doing now?

There is a relatively extensive knowledge of the injury epidemiology in elite athletes during the specific context of international championships, but not so much in other contexts and populations. There is, however, more information than ten years ago about injury epidemiology during the athletics season in all athletes, and some prospective longitudinal injury data collections are conducted as a routine in some countries. There is a better knowledge of athletics-related injury aetiology, although approaches are often unifactorial or about one domain. Numerous suggestions about injury prevention measures are presented in the scientific literature, and their evaluation through randomised controlled trials has emerged (to my knowledge, only one RCT has been published on athletics injury prevention so far). Thus, we have some proposals for injury prevention measures/strategies for athletes, coaches, or health professionals. Still, we cannot guarantee their objective efficacy, as proved by scientific studies.

Where do you think we will be ten years from now?

I hope (!) that in 10 years, all stakeholders in the athletics world will agree on the interest of injury prevention and its research, will take an active part in such approaches, and will work hand-to-hand together to protect athletes’ health and reduce injury risk. I hope prospective injury data monitoring will be a routine, and several RCTs on different preventative approaches will be published. From my point of view, to be in such a condition in 10 years, there is a need to educate all stakeholders about the added value of injury prevention and co-construct the injury prevention strategies and research. I hope that in 10 years, we can propose individualised, contextualised, multifactorial injury prevention strategies to athletes, coaches, health professionals and other actors!

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