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Prevention: Unleashing the Athlete’s Potential and Safeguarding a Long-lasting Career

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By Roger Fontanet

INTRODUCTION:
Following the path of the article “Epidemiology of Injuries during Judo Tournaments” (1) we question to what extent prevention strategies can shield our athletes from significant injuries.

CURRENT STATE OF THE TOPIC
The meta-analysis of Lauersen et al, (2) confirms the efficacy of varied injury prevention trainings. Among these, strength training has demonstrated highly significant results, followed by proprioception training and multiple exposure programs, which have also proven to be effective. On the other hand, stretching has not exhibited any significant protective effect. When it comes to sports such as football, basketball, and handball, prevention training has consistently shown the potential to reduce sports-related injuries by more than two-thirds, with overuse injuries nearly halved. Another systematic review involving football players suggests that incorporating dynamic warm-up programs that combine strength, balance, and mobility training can lower the occurrence of both match and training injuries (3) .

JUSTIFICATION
While injury prevention programs have shown effectiveness in reducing injury rates in various sports, there is currently a gap in the literature regarding proven effective prevention programs specifically designed for judo or other combat sports. Consequently, researchers have developed a dynamic prevention program specifically targeting shoulder, knee, and ankle injuries in judo (4).

PREVENTION PROGRAMS IN JUDO
Von Gerhardt et al, (4) and their research team have developed a comprehensive injury prevention warm-up program known as IPPON (Injury Prevention and Performance Optimization Netherlands). This program targets the high incidence rates of injuries in judo, emphasizing the need for effective interventions to protect judo athletes.
The IPPON program offers a versatile warm-up routine lasting 10-15 minutes, performed barefoot on the tatami. It includes a total of 36 exercises categorized into
flexibility and agility, balance and coordination, and strength and stability. Coaches have the flexibility to create a customized routine for their athletes by selecting four exercises from each category. An initial test of the IPPON program was conducted in the Netherlands, involving amateur judokas, and yielded promising results. However, to establish the program’s effectiveness and feasibility conclusively, further validation and evidence are necessary, which can be achieved through a randomized controlled trial.

HOW FAR DOES PREVENTION GO?
Prevention in judo extends beyond the visible aspects on the mat and encompasses a wide range of measures and practices. It requires careful consideration of controlling internal and external loads to prevent injuries, while also considering the biopsychosocial context of the athlete. An article in judo training, “Using Training Monotony to design better judo programs,” provides valuable insights into understanding how athletes perceive and manage internal load.

OTHER PREVENTION STRATEGIES

  • Proper nutrition, including adequate intake of essential nutrients, is important for injury prevention and recovery in judo. This includes maintaining a balanced diet, consuming sufficient protein for muscle health, and supporting collagen synthesis and tissue repair through appropriate vitamin intake. Additionally, preoperative nutrition should focus on supporting the immune system and optimizing healing (6).
  • Good control in the weight loss prior to the competition using methods and controls validated by professionals (6). The article “Rapid weight loss can increase the risk of acute kidney injury in wrestlers” gives important information in the weight lost related injuries.
  • Having a good physical preparation is crucial in judo to minimize the risk of injuries. This includes strength training, cardiovascular fitness, flexibility, and agility exercises (7).
  • Compete fully recovered: Athletes should enter competitions only when fully recovered from past injuries. The Special Judo Fitness Test (SJFT) or other performance tests can serve as decisive criteria for assessing the ability to compete (7).
  • Falling skills: Learning proper falling skills is essential in judo. These skills help athletes protect themselves and reduce the impact on joints and minimizing the risk of injuries like fractures or dislocations (7).
  • Age and experience considerations: Children, juveniles, and inexperienced judokas should be prevented from entering competitions prematurely. Organizing competitions for athletes of different levels of experience, such asthose organized by the French Judo Federation, can be a beneficial approach (7).
  • Implement an ongoing injury surveillance system: Having an ongoing injury surveillance system in judo is crucial. This system involves collecting and analyzing data on injuries, which can provide valuable insights for developing effective injury prevention strategies (7).
  • Ensure high-quality facilities and mats: the use of high-quality facilities could reduce injuries and mats can help prevent collisions and head injuries (7).

“SHOULD ATHLETES BE TRAINING SMARTER AND HARDER?” (5)
Training has a protective effect against injury. The statement that a higher training load leads to higher injury rates is not always true. The issue arises when inappropriate training or loads are prescribed.
It is crucial to consider that well-developed physical qualities are associated with a reduced risk of injury. Under-training can increase the risk of injuries, and simply
reducing workloads may not always be the most effective approach to prevent them.
Excessive and rapid increases in training loads are often responsible for a significant portion of non-contact, soft-tissue injuries. However, physically demanding training helps develop these physical qualities, ultimately providing protection against injuries.
This paper emphasizes the importance of monitoring training load as a practical approach to achieve long-term reduction in training-related injuries.

CONCLUSIONS
The research lines mentioned previously, focusing on prevention in judo are crucial for reducing the risk of injuries and maximizing the career of a judoka. These areas of investigation play a key role in developing comprehensive injury prevention strategies that address various aspects of physical preparation, nutritional support, and load management. By implementing these approaches, judo athletes can enhance their
performance, minimize the risk of injuries, and optimize their long-term athletic development.
In conclusion, effective injury prevention measures can play a pivotal role in ensuring the well-being and longevity of judo practitioners. Further research is necessary, to comprehensively understand the benefits of prevention interventions.

REFERENCES

  1. Mooren J, von Gerhardt AL, Hendriks ITJ, Tol JL, Koëter S. Epidemiology of Injuries during Judo Tournaments. Transl Sport Med. 2023;2023.
    doi:10.1155/2023/2713614
  2. Lauersen JB, Bertelsen DM, Andersen LB. The effectiveness of exercise interventions to prevent sports injuries: a systematic review and meta-analysis of
    randomised controlled trials. Br J Sports Med. 2014;48(11):871-877. doi:10.1136/BJSPORTS-2013-092538
  3. Pérez-Gómez J, Adsuar JC, Alcaraz PE, Carlos-Vivas J. Physical exercises for preventing injuries among adult male football players: A systematic review. J Sport
    Heal Sci. 2022;11(1):115-122. doi:10.1016/J.JSHS.2020.11.003
  4. Von Gerhardt AL, Vriend I, Verhagen E, Tol JL, Kerkhoffs GMMJ, Reurink G. Systematic development of an injury prevention programme for judo athletes: the
    IPPON intervention. BMJ Open Sport Exerc Med. 2020;6(1):e000791. doi:10.1136/BMJSEM-2020-000791
  5. Gabbett TJ. The training—injury prevention paradox: should athletes be training smarter and harder? Br J Sports Med. 2016;50(5):273. doi:10.1136/BJSPORTS-
    2015-095788
  6. Turnagöl HH, Koșar Șükran N, Güzel Y, Aktitiz S, Atakan MM. Nutritional Considerations for Injury Prevention and Recovery in Combat Sports. Nutr 2022, Vol 14,Page 53. 2021;14(1):53. doi:10.3390/NU14010053
  7. Pocecco E, Ruedl G, Stankovic N, et al. Injuries in judo: a systematic literature review including suggestions for prevention. Br J Sports Med. 2013;47(18):1139-
  8. doi:10.1136/BJSPORTS-2013-092886

Check out more articles about injury prevention in judo HERE.
Photos: EJU

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