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Retrospective Injury Epidemiology of Strongman Athletes

Winwood, Paul W.1,2; Hume, Patria A.1; Cronin, John B.1,3; Keogh, Justin W.L.1,4,5

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: January 2014 - Volume 28 - Issue 1 - p 28–42
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3182986c0c
Original Research

Winwood PW, Hume PA, Cronin JB, and Keogh JWL. Retrospective injury epidemiology of strongman athletes. J Strength Cond Res 28(1): 28–42, 2014—This study provides the first empirical evidence of strongman training and competition injury epidemiology. Strongman athletes (n = 213) (mean ± SD: 31.7 ± 8.8 years, 181.3 ± 7.4 cm, 113.0 ± 20.3 kg, 12.8 ± 8.1 years general resistance training, and 4.4 ± 3.4 years strongman implement training) completed a self-reported, 4-page, 1-year retrospective survey of physical injuries that caused a missed or modified training session or competition. Analysis by age (≤30 and >30 years), body mass (≤105 and >105 kg), and competitive standard (low and high level) was conducted. Eighty-two percent of strongman athletes reported injuries (1.6 ± 1.5 training injuries per lifter per year, 0.4 ± 0.7 competition injuries per lifter per year, and 5.5 ± 6.5 training injuries per 1,000-hour training). Lower back (24%), shoulder (21%), bicep (11%), knee (11%), and strains and tears of muscle (38%) and tendon (23%) were frequent. The majority of injuries (68%) were acute and were of moderate severity (47%). Strongman athletes used self-treatment (54%) or medical professional treatment (41%) for their injuries. There were significantly more competition injuries for the ≤30- than the >30-year athletes (0.5 ± 0.8 vs. 0.3 ± 0.6, p = 0.03) and >105-kg athletes compared with the ≤105-kg athletes (0.5 ± 0.8 vs. 0.3 ± 0.6, p = 0.014). Although 54% injuries resulted from traditional training, strongman athletes were 1.9 times more likely to sustain injury when performing strongman implement training when exposure to type of training was considered. To reduce risk of injury and improve training practices, strongman athletes should monitor technique and progressions for exercises that increase risk of lower back, shoulder, bicep, and knee musculoskeletal injuries. Clinicians should advise athletes who use of strongman resistance training programs can increase injury risk over traditional exercises.

1Sport Performance Research In New Zealand (SPRINZ), AUT Millennium Institute, AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand;

2Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, Department of Sport and Recreation, School of Applied Science, Tauranga, New Zealand;

3Edith Cowan University, School of Biomedical and Health Sciences, Perth, Australia;

4Bond University Research, Center for Health, Exercise and Sports Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine, Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia; and

5University of the Sunshine Coast, Faculty of Science, Health, Education and Engineering, Queensland, Australia

Address correspondence to Paul W. Winwood,

Copyright © 2014 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.