Background Athletics practice leads risk of injuries with negative consequences on participation. It is therefore important to develop and validate strategies to prevent it.
Objective To determine whether an Athletics Injury Prevention Program (AIPP), targeting the most common athletic injury types (hamstring strain, achilles and patellar tendinopathy, low back pain, ankle sprain), can reduce the occurrence of injury complaints with decreased participation (IC) related to athletics practice.
Design Prospective cohort study.
Setting Regional- to international-level athletics athletes.
Participants A total of 63 athletes, with ≥75% of response rate to a questionnaire with weekly follow-up on AIPP adherence and IC, during one athletics season (43 weeks).
Interventions An 8-exercise AIPP, addressing core stability, hamstrings and leg eccentric muscle strengthening and stretching, pelvis balance and stabilizing work.
Main Outcome Measurements Adherence to AIPP, incidence of IC and prevalence of weeks with IC. Relative risks (RR) with 95% CI between two groups: “AIPP+” corresponding to athletes executing AIPP≥1/week vs. “AIPP-” corresponding to athletes performing AIPP<1/week.
Results At short term (12 weeks, n=63 athletes), there was a significant lower incidence of IC in AIPP+ (n=33; 1.5±0.6 AIPP/week) compared to AIPP- (n=30; 0.5±0.3 AIPP/week) (6.1±2.8 vs. 11.3±4.0 IC per 1000 hours of practice; RR=0.53, 95% CI: 0.30–0.95). At long term (40 weeks, n=40 athletes), there were i) a significant reduction in number of weeks with IC in AIPP+ (n=11; 1.4±0.6 AIPP/week) compared to AIPP− (n=27; 0.6±0.3 AIPP/week) (8.0% vs. 16.4%; RR=0.49, 95% CI: 0.34–0.70), and ii) a significant lower incidence of hamstring IC in AIPP+ compared to AIPP− (1.3±1.3 vs. 2.6±1.2 IC per 1000 hours of practice; RR=0.13, 95% CI: 0.02–0.97).
Conclusions An 8-exercise prevention program, based on a scientific evidence and performed more than once a week, resulted in a protective effect on injury complaints with decreased sport participation at both short and long term.