Almost any part of the body can suffer an injury during sports or exercise. But, the term ‘sports injury’ is used to describe injuries of the musculoskeletal system. This includes:
- Injuries of muscles
- Injuries of bones
- Injuries of ligaments and tendons
- Injuries of other associated tissues like cartilage.
Traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries are relatively rare during sports or exercise.
Sports injuries are an unfortunate side effect of working out and training. It commonly occurs due to overtraining, improper conditioning, and wrong form or technique. Warm-up and cool-down stretches play a very important role in injury prevention.
Common sports injuries:
- Achilles tendon
- Tennis elbow
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Anterior cruciate ligament tears
- Low back pain
- Ankle sprain
How Genes Influence The Likelihood of Injury?
MCT1 Gene and Injury Risk
MCT1 gene, also called SLC16A1, encodes the Monocarboxylate transporter 1 (MCT) protein. It regulates the transport of lactate and other substances. It also removes lactic acid from the muscles.
The build-up of lactic acid makes the intracellular environment acidic and degenerates the muscles. Both of these can make a person injury-prone.
MCT1 gene influences the amount of MCT you produce. The more you produce, the quicker is the clearance rate. This reduces muscle degeneration and injury risk.
rs1049434 of MCT1 Gene and Injury Risk
According to a study, rs1049434 AA genotype was associated with a higher incidence of injuries in elite football players. Further, the study also hypothesized that the T allele could play a protective role in the pathogenesis of indirect muscle injuries.
MMP3 Gene and Injury Risk
The MMP3 gene encodes the enzyme matrix metalloproteinase 3 (also called Stromelysin-1), which is associated with the breakdown of extracellular matrix during the normal physiological process.
MMP3 is required to maintain the mechanical properties of tendons. An elevated expression of the MMP3 gene is associated with increased degeneration of the matrix, resulting in an imbalance.
rs679620 of MMP3 Gene and Injury Risk
A study explored the potential relationship between the SNP rs679620 and tendon injury.
The G allele was associated with an increased risk of Achilles tendinopathy (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19042922/).
Non-genetics Factor That Influence Injury Risk
Non-genetic factors can be modifiable or non-modifiable. Modifiable factors can be tuned through specific training methods. Examples of modifiable factors include:
- Body composition (e.g., body weight, fat mass, BMI, anthropometry)
- Fitness level (e.g., muscle strength/power, VO2 max, joint ROM)
- Skill level (e.g., sports-specific technique, postural stability)
- Psychological factors (e.g., competitiveness, motivation, perception of risk)
Some non-modifiable factors include:
- Age (maturation, aging)
- Anatomy (alignment, intercondylar notch width)
- Health (previous injury, joint instability)
- Anatomy (bone architecture)
Recommendations to Prevent Injuries
Get the right gear: Wear comfortable clothes that let your body move naturally and breathe freely.
Strengthen your muscles: Conditioning exercises like squats, burpees, resistance training, and aerobics can help strengthen your muscles.
Use the right technique: There’s a ‘right’ form for each exercise. Practicing that form is important to avoid unnecessary strain on the muscles.
Take adequate rest: Getting enough rest aids muscle recovery and prevents muscle injuries.
Hydrate continuously: Sweating results in the loss of essential fluids; they need to be replaced to sustain the exercise
Get stretching: Both warm-up and cool-down stretches are essential to prevent injuries.
- “Sports injuries” describe the injuries of muscular and skeletal systems. Some common injuries include sprain, tendinopathy, Achilles tendon, fractures, and tennis elbow.
- Some genes influence various fitness-associated aspects like muscle and tendon strength, collagen formation, fatigue onset, and the overall musculature.
- MMP3 is a gene that is required to maintain the mechanical properties of tendons. The G allele of rs679620 in the MMP3 gene is associated with an increased risk for tendinopathy and Achilles tendon.
- Factors like age, sex, bone architecture, fitness levels, and body composition also affect the likelihood of injury.
- You can do some things to ensure injury prevention, including wearing the right gear, doing some strengthening exercises, giving adequate rest periods between workouts, and hydrating adequately.