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Injury prevention in orienteering

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These four exercises are effective in preventing substantial injuries in orienteerers if performed at least twice a week:

  • one-leg stance
  • runner’s pose
  • one-leg heel pose
  • one-leg side hop


62 adult male and female elite orienteerers (Sweden).

Intervention group
30 people (females: 15, males: 15)
aged 24.1 (±3.5)
years as elite 5.8 (±3.3)
previous ankle sprain 13
Control group
32 people (females: 15, males: 17)
aged 24.2 (±3.8)
years as elite 6.6 (±3.6)
previous ankle sprain 12


Randomised controlled trial.

Intervention group

  • 4 exercises on neuromuscular control, balance, jumping:
    • one-leg stance
    • runner's pose
    • one leg heel raise
    • one leg side hope (3 difficulty levels)
  • progressed every 2 weeks
  • 4 times a week
  • 14 weeks

Control group

  • trained as usual

Injury measures

A number of substantial lower limb injuries (from foot to hip), average substantial injury prevalence, the incidence of ankle sprains.

substantial injuryinjury resulting in a moderate or severe reduction in training volume or performance, or ceasing of training

Injury data were collected using the Oslo Sports Trauma Research Center (OSTRC) Overuse Injury Questionnaire sent every 2 weeks (via text message) for 14 weeks. Also asked about training volume, frequency of exercises and ankle sprains occurrence.

Main results

  • 64 substantial injuries happened over 14 weeks. 66% during a competitive season. 55% of injuries were in the foot, 22% in the lower leg.
  • No significant difference between intervention and control groups for the number of substantial injuries or number of ankle sprains.
  • But when participants from the intervention group were divided into high (2 or more times per week) and low compliance (less than 2) sub-groups, there was a significant difference in substantially injured orienteerers with 65% reduced injury risk, and a number of substantial injuries with 64% reduced injury risk, between control and high compliance sub-group, respectively.
  • No significant differences occurred between control and low compliance sub-group. In the intervention group, a significantly higher proportion of low compliance orienteerers were injured than high complying orienteerers.

Take home message

For a clinician & coach
Only high compliance with the exercise programme gave reduction in injuries.
For a parent
Doing these 4 exercises at least 2 times per week can be effective in reducing injuries in orienteering.
For an athlete
Perform these 4 exercises at least 2 times per week if you want to prevent leg and foot injuries resulting from orienteeting.

Original article

Halvarsson B, von Rosen P. Could a specific exercise programme prevent injury in elite orienteerers? A randomised controlled trial. Physical therapy in sport. 2019 Nov 1;40:177-83.

Clinical trial registration 4-1645/2017.

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