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Risk compensation, motivation, injuries, and biomechanics in competitive sport
  1. A S McIntosh
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr McIntosh
 The University of New South Wales, Sydney 2052, Australia;

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There is a need for an integrated perspective on sports injury

Science and medical researchers and practitioners working in the field of sports injury prevention tend to have very tangible objectives and focus on identifying and solving specific injury risks. There is an uncertainty, however, that “solving” one problem may not simply create another. As the field matures, it is worth considering whether theories and models can be developed that have more general application to a range of injury issues. There is a need for an integrated perspective on sports injury that is inclusive of medical, behavioural (psychological, sociological, and organisational), physiological, and biomechanical factors. On the one hand, training and skills development are advocated as the best methods to reduce injury, but injury rates appear only to increase the more competitively a person approaches sport. This leads to the questions: are significant reductions in sports injury risk possible at all—or in only very specific sports, age groups, or competition levels—and only through absolute reductions in exposure, or after reconsideration of injury prevention methods?

A biomechanically focused model of injury causation and prevention has been developed that draws on models by Wismans1 and Norton.2 From a biomechanical perspective, injury is “equivalent to the failure of a machine or structure”.3 Injury results from a transfer of energy to the tissue. The mechanical properties of human tissue, such as stiffness (stress–strain relation), ultimate strength, and critical stress, govern how the body responds to physical loads. …

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