Sports Med. 2023 Oct 27. doi: 10.1007/s40279-023-01950-w. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Injuries are common in adult recreational athletes. Exercise-based injury prevention programmes offer the potential to reduce the risk of injury and have been a popular research topic. Yet, syntheses and meta-analyses on the effects of exercise-based injury prevention programmes for adult recreational athletes are lacking.
OBJECTIVES: We aimed to synthesise and quantify the pooled intervention effects of exercise-based injury prevention programmes delivered to adults who participate in recreation sports.
METHODS: Studies were eligible for inclusion if they included adult recreational athletes (aged > 16 years), an exercise-based intervention and used a randomised controlled trial design. Exclusion criteria were studies without a control group, studies using a non-randomised design and studies including participants who were undertaking activity mandatory for their occupation. Eleven literature databases were searched from earliest record, up to 9 June, 2022. The Physiotherapy Evidence Database (PEDro) scale was used to assess the risk of bias in all included studies. Reported risk statistics were synthesised in a random-effects meta-analysis to quantify pooled treatment effects and associated 95% confidence intervals and prediction intervals.
RESULTS: Sixteen studies met the criteria. Risk statistics were reported as risk ratios [RRs] (n = 12) or hazard ratios [HRs] (n = 4). Pooled estimates of RRs and HRs were 0.94 (95% confidence interval 0.80-1.09) and 0.65 (95% confidence interval 0.39-1.08), respectively. Prediction intervals were 0.80-1.09 and 0.16-2.70 for RR and HR, respectively. Heterogeneity was very low for RR studies, but high for HR studies (tau = 0.29, I2 = 81%). There was evidence of small study effects for RR studies, evidenced by funnel plot asymmetry and Egger’s test for small study bias: – 0.99 (CI – 2.08 to 0.10, p = 0.07).
CONCLUSIONS: Pooled point estimates were suggestive of a reduced risk of injury in intervention groups. Nevertheless, these risk estimates were insufficiently precise, too heterogeneous and potentially compromised by small study effects to arrive at any robust conclusion. More large-scale studies are required to clarify whether exercise-based injury prevention programmes are effective in adult recreational athletes.
CLINICAL TRIAL REGISTRATION: The protocol for this review was prospectively registered in the PROSPERO database (CRD42021232697).