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Safety of Strength Training in Women: Musculoskeletal Injuries in the Strong, Healthy, and Empowered Study: 2179: Board #92 June 1 8:00 AM −9:30 AM

Warren, Meghan; Schmitz, Kathryn H. FACSM

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: May 2007 - Volume 39 - Issue 5 - p S391
doi: 10.1249/01.mss.0000274538.17906.e3
E-26 Free Communication/Poster - Injury and Illness: JUNE 1, 2007 7:30 AM - 12:30 PM ROOM: Hall E

1Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ.

2University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


Injury is the number one reason people report for permanently stopping exercise. The benefits of strength training need to be considered in the context of the overall effects, including risks for injury.

PURPOSE: To explore the safety of twice-weekly strength training by examining the incidence rates of musculoskeletal injuries.

METHODS: 163 overweight, sedentary, premenopausal women aged 25–44 were enrolled in the Strong, Healthy, and Empowered (SHE) study. All participants were injury-free at baseline and were randomized to two years of strength-training (ST, n=81) or standard-care (CO, n=82). The strength training followed published guidelines, and included strategies hypothesized to prevent injuries. A survey assessed musculoskeletal (joint and soft tissue pain) injuries over the previous year at 1 and 2 years after the start of the study. These analyses include those in the ST group. Injury definitions included any strength training related injury (ALL_ST) and strength training-related injuries that limited daily activities for > 1 week (SEV_ST). The denominators used to calculate injury rates included number of participants and strength training attendance.

RESULTS: There were 80.2 and 33.3 injuries per 100 people for ALL_ST and SEV_ST, respectively. The lower extremity accounted for 60% of the injuries, with knee injuries most commonly reported. For ALL_ST, 3.7 injuries per 1000 ST sessions were reported, and for SEV_ST, there were 2.6 injuries per 1000 ST sessions.

CONCLUSIONS: The ST group had lower injury rates than previously reported for strength training (11.9 and 4.2 injuries per 1000 ST sessions for ALL_ST and SEV_ST) and aerobic exercise (24 and 7 per 1000 hours of running for all and more severe injuries, respectively), supporting the injury prevention strategies used. This provides initial evidence that the current guidelines for strength training are safe for women, but further research is needed to confirm these findings. The choice of injury definition and denominator had a large effect on injury rates. Injury definitions and denominators for rate calculation should be explicitly denned.

© 2007 American College of Sports Medicine