Sports Injury Prevention is Complex: We Need to Invest in Better Processes, Not Singular Solutions

Jason C Tee, Shaun J McLaren, Ben Jones
Sports Medicine 2020, 50 (4): 689-702
In recent years, an understanding has developed that sports injuries are the emergent outcomes of complex, dynamic systems. Thus, the influence of local contextual factors on injury outcomes is increasingly being acknowledged. These realisations place injury prevention research at a crossroads. Currently, injury prevention researchers develop universally applicable injury prevention solutions, but the adoption of these solutions in practice is low. This occurs because implementation contexts are both unique and dynamic in nature, and as a result singular, static solutions are often incompatible. In contrast, practitioners address injury prevention through iterative cycles of trial and error, aiming to optimise the injury prevention process within their own unique contexts. The purpose of this critical review is to draw attention to the misalignment between research and practice-based approaches to injury prevention. In light of this, we propose alternative research approaches that acknowledge the process-driven nature of injury prevention in practice. We propose that a core focus of sport injury prevention research should be to provide practitioners with useful and relevant information to support their decision making around their localised injury prevention practice. Through this approach, injury prevention research ceases to be about what works, and begins to engage with understanding what works in what contexts and why?

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