An injury can be described as harm or hurt inflicted on a part of the body. An injury is a specific condition with a specific pathology. Dysfunction cannot be so easily identified and can be described as a non-pathological impairment or abnormality in soft tissue function.
A number of factors can affect a person’s likelihood of experiencing an injury or dysfunction. These include:
With age (and physical inactivity) bones become thinner, lighter, less effective at absorbing impact and more prone to fracture. The elasticity of connective tissue also decreases as elastin fibres are replaced with collagen. This reduces the ability of the passive stability systems to prevent unwanted movement and it can increase the likelihood of injury.
The active systems (neuromuscular systems) are also affected by age as the proportion of fast twitch fibres decrease, reducing the capacity for explosive movements and quick reactions to stimuli.
Increasing age often brings reduced activity levels. Any-age related changes can be offset by regular and appropriate training and activity, but if activity levels drop, the principle of reversibility comes into play and the effects of ageing are compounded. The risk of injury depends on the combination of age and other more modifiable risk factors, such as lifestyle and activity.
Studies comparing gender-based predisposition to injury are limited, and although there do not appear to be some functional differences that play a role in the incidence of injury, many factors appear to be related to the type, frequency or intensity of the training regimes themselves, rather than gender (Ristolainen et al., 2009)
There are few physiological reasons why women may be more predisposed to injury and dysfunction than men. The larger Q-angle in women does appear to have an influence over knee pain. Incidence of injury to the anterior cruciate ligament is also higher in women than in men, although there may be a number of factors that play a role in this increased predisposition, including hormonal and structural differences.
Body composition can have a positive or negative effect on predisposition to injury and dysfunction.
-Bone mineral density is a key factor in preventing skeletal injuries, e.g. fractures.
-Muscular balance can affect predisposition to injury in specific areas. For example, an individual who trains their chest maximally without training their back may find that their posture distorts, increasing the pressure on their shoulders, trunk, lower back and hips. Increasing the likelihood of injury in these areas.
-Excessive fat mass or fat-free mass (muscles) can affect movement patterns by restricting or limiting full ROM in some areas. This will affect the stresses placed upon the body and can increase predisposition to injury. For example, an individual with excessive leg size may find they cannot bring their legs together; this will increase pressure on their ankles, knees, hips and lowerback.