Ask an Athletic Trainer: Injury Prevention 101

Erin Clark, MS, LAT became coordinator of athletic training in August 2018.  Prior to Rec Sports, she was employed as an assistant athletic trainer at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with Intercollegiate Athletics for 10 years.  She completed her Masters of Science at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse while working as a graduate assistant athletic trainer in campus recreation and completed her Bachelors of Science in Athletic Training at UW-La Crosse in 2006. She takes special interest in concussion management and injury prevention strategies and also enjoys the great outdoors, hiking, fishing, golfing, and spending time with her husband, two boys, and Husky.
Injuries are part of sport.  Most people who are active will experience some degree of injury in their lifetime.  As kids, we could go and go and go without thinking twice.  As we get older, we may feel that previous day’s workout a little more.  Our backs may be more sore after moving and unpacking boxes in our new apartment.  We may roll an ankle a few more times after getting that initial injury back in high school.  All of these scenarios are precursors for injuries that can be prevented.  In our first Ask an Athletic Trainer column, we’ll talk about what we can do now to prevent some of these injuries from occurring later.
When it comes to research, there are ample amounts of data looking at high school and NCAA athletes, but very little being done on campus recreation, and, in particular, sport clubs.  The research that is available demonstrates that sport club athletes have a higher risk of injury during competition than their NCAA counterparts (Arthur-Banning; 2018). While training and experience are two factors that individuals have less control over, conditioning and personal decisions, can be put on the shoulders of each individual regardless of what their sport club dictates.
So, what can you do to reduce your risk of injury?  There are so. many. things.

  • Sleep! Athletes who slept an average of less than 8 hours per night were almost twice as likely to sustain an injury compared with athletes who slept for more than 8 hours per night (Milewski, 2014).
  • Eat well. Calorie (energy) deficits can predispose athletes to injury, as well as prolong injury recovery. On the other end of the spectrum, consuming too many calories can put too much stress on the body if we are not utilizing that energy through activity. Balance is key. (Tipton, 2015). If you’d like to talk to someone about your diet, nutritionists can be found at University Health Services right here on campus. Call 608-265-5600 to schedule an appointment.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol has been shown to impair muscle protein synthesis with exercise in humans.  (Muscle protein synthesis is what makes us strong!) Moreover, alcohol impairs the inflammatory process and prolongs injury recovery.
  • Condition prior to beginning your sport. Excessive and rapid increases in training loads are likely responsible for a large proportion of non-contact, soft-tissue injuries. However, physically challenging (and appropriate) training develops physical qualities, which in turn protects against injuries (Gabbett 2016). Train for training!
  • Be aware of overtraining. Too much workload and not enough recovery time can lead to fatigue, abnormal training responses to tissue, and an increased risk of injury and illness. (Soligard; 2016).  Once again, balance is key.
  • Sport-specific training. Every sport has its own set of unique requirements, as well as its own set of unique risks for injury.  Addressing these unique components can reduce the risk of injury.  For example, jumping is very important for volleyball and basketball.  Knee injuries are also a prevalent injury amongst those athletes.  Incorporating knee injury prevention programs into the training regimen has been proven to reduce the risk of injury for those athletes (Yorikatsu, 2018). If you’re a Sport Club athlete, we offer sport-specific training through our Team Performance Training program. Our fitness and athletic training staff will work closely to make sure that your team is getting an appropriately directed plan specific to your sport’s demands.
  • Address previous injuries. Athletes who sustain an ankle sprain are at greater risk for sustaining another.  Of those who experience low back injuries, 85% will experience subsequent low back pain in their lifetime (Freburger, 2009).  If you would like a preventative exercise program, please email to schedule a visit with our Athletic Training Staff

If you’d like to further discuss injury prevention or have a topic for our Ask An Athletic Trainer column, please contact us through our feedback form here.  We’d love to hear what is important and concerning to you. Stay healthy and PLAY HARD. GET FIT. LIVE WELL.

  1. Arthur-Banning SG, Jameyson D, Black K, Mkumbo P. An Epidemiology of sport injury rates among campus recreation sport programs. Rehab Science. 2018; 3(2): 38-42. doi: 10.11648/
  2. Milewski MD, Skaggs DL, Bishop GA, Pace JL, Ibrahim DA, Wren TA, Barzdukas A. Chronic lack of sleep is associated with increased sports injuries in adolescent athletes. J Pediatr Orthop. 2014; 34(2): 129-133. doi: 10.1097/BPO.0000000000000151
  3. Tipton KD. Nutritional support for exercise-induced injuries. Sports Med. 2015; 45:93-104. doi: 1007/s40279-015-0398-4
  4. Gabbett TJ. The training-injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder? Br J Sports Med. 2016; 50: 273-280
  5. Soligard T, Schwellnus M, Alonso J. How much is too much? (Part 1) International Olympic committee consensus statement on load in sport and risk of injury. Br J Sports Med. 2016; 50: 1030-1041
  6. Omi Y, Sugimoto D, Kuriyama S, Kurihara T, Miyamoto K, Yun S, Kawashima T, Hirose N. Effect of hip-focused injury prevention training for anterior cruciate ligament injury reduction in female basketball players: a 12-year prospective intervention study. American J of Sports Med. 2018; 46(4): 852-861
  7. Freburger JK, Holmes GM, Agans RP, Jackman AM. The rising prevalence of chronic low back pain. Arch Intern Med. 2009; 169(3): 251-258. doi:  1001/archinternmed.2008.543