Injury Prevention Program (IPP)

Have you ever seen a physiotherapist for an injury, been diligent with your exercises, returned to what you love, only to find that within a few months, you are seeing the physiotherapist again for a similar injury?

I have always played and continue to play many sports, so am no stranger to injuries and niggles. I could not count the number of injuries I have sustained. These injuries have meant I see physiotherapists often, whether due to a new or old injury. What I have found through many recovery programs is that I will complete the rehabilitation process, get the all-clear to return to sport, and consequently neglect my prescribed plan.

When a person completes recovery and then resumes playing sport they move from a controlled to a relatively uncontrollable environment, which can increase injury risk. Many injuries would benefit from integrating injury management principles into the long-term strength and conditioning training plan – but what about injury prevention?

When resuming sport, regardless of your injury history, an Injury Prevention Program (IPP) aims to strengthen your body and reduce the risk of injury. Does this make a difference?
What does research evidence tell us?

An Injury Prevention Plan (IPP) is designed to help reduce the risk of potential injuries. IPP works by strengthening the muscles and supporting the structures in your body. IPP is most effective in the protection of soft-tissue injuries (muscles, tendons, and ligaments).

‘Strengthening’ does not mean that you need to buy a gym membership. Undertaking an Injury Prevention Program (IPP) is an important step in considering the approach and planning of your individual program.

Incorporating functional, sport-specific exercises is a must in training and injury prevention. Take soccer for example – it is a contact sport that can involve jumping, sprinting, changing direction, and often all at once. An IPP will help develop functional exercises that mimic these movements to strengthen the required muscles and structures. Having said this though, if you have access to a gym – use it!
Gym-based strength training can also be very beneficial as mixing general strength work and functional training is very effective.

This interplay of approaches, with the addition of balance training, has been proven effective in overall injury prevention and is often cited as the ‘gold standard’ for sporting clubs and athletes when designing an IPP. If you do not have access to a gym, many accessible and effective strength exercises can help to provide a high-quality IPP.

Several systematic reviews have been conducted for IPPs, concluding that they are effective in reducing injury rates. One systematic review found that injury prevention programs are effective and can reduce injury rates by at least 40%. A soccer-specific review found that an injury prevention program could reduce injury rates by 50%.

In designing an IPP that will best meet your needs, for many people (including myself) it can be very helpful to consult a professional, such as a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist. They will take into consideration, why you want to develop and begin an IPP, the facilities and resources you have access to, and importantly, your injury history. This will allow them to create a program tailored specifically to your body, abilities, motivation, and needs.

For more information on injury prevention programs or to have a tailored conditioning program to help manage injury or injury risk – click here to book a consult with one of our physiotherapists.