Intrinsic risk factors

Intrinsic risk factors are usually caused by the individual and not by outside factors. These are factors that the individual can control and usually they are able to change them if the risk factors are causing injury to the person.

Muscle imbalance: Muscular imbalance involves antagonistic pairs e.g. quadriceps and the hamstring muscles, they work as a pair and need to compliment each other however sometimes when people over train a certain muscle or muscle group and neglect that muscles antagonistic pair injuries can occur as one muscle is either more tight or more loose than the other. If you suffer from muscle imbalance then a way you can prevent this is to ensure you train all muscle groups including antagonistic pairs for example chest muscles and your back muscles this will prevent injury as one muscle will not be working overtime causing extra strain on the muscle which could cause injury.

Poor preparationBefore starting any physical activity you will need to prepare for it by wearing the correct equipment and clothing to help reduce the risk of injuries, for example if you are playing football on an astroturf pitch you will use football boots rather than running trainers and if you are looking to go on a 5 mile run you will wear suitable running trainers not football boots as this may cause injury due to the lack of grip on the football studs which could make you fall over or sprain your ankle.

Level of fitness: Before you start physical activity you need to see whereabouts you are at with your level of fitness as if you are training at too high a level of intensity this could cause injury as you will be pushing yourself too much which in turn could cause injury, this is because you may pass out due to the intensity of the exercise being too high for your level of fitness.

Overuse: If you are playing a sport that requires you to do the same movements over and over again for example tennis this can cause micro damage to the muscle tissue and the body will not be able to repair it therefore causing injury which could lead to further problems in the future. A way in which you could prevent this is to wear an elbow brace when training which could help prevent the tears to the muscle tissue.

Age: Depending on the age of the athlete there will need to be special considerations put in place to ensure they do not get injured when playing the sport, for example an exercise that is suitable for a teenager may not be suitable for a young child or an elderly person such as high intensity circuit training as the young child and elderly person will not have the muscular endurance or cardiovascular endurance to work at this intensity the same as a teenager.

Fitness level: If an athlete is physically fit and maintains this high level of speed and aerobic endurance will in turn make the athlete quicker, more efficient and controlled reducing the risk of injury to the athlete. This is because if the athlete is training at a high level then their fitness level drops suddenly but they are still training at this level they could run the risk of pulling muscles or passing out due to the intensity being too high for their fitness level.

Growth development: Young athletes who are still growing and developing could potentially face a higher risk of injury than a fully developed athlete. Young athletes can be at risk to injury more because of a number of factors including excessive forces damage or effect bone growth, young athletes reaction times may not be fully developed which also could add to the risk of injury as they will not be able to react to a threat as quickly as someone who’s reactions are fully developed.

Previous injury history: When an athlete injures a part of their body this body part may never fully recover and become weaker and become more prone to injury, this is why proper rehabilitation is needed when an athlete suffers an injury. If you suffer from an injury a way that you could help prevent any further injury is to ensure that ensure that you are 100% fit and have been signed off from the physio.

Flexibility: Flexibility is important to help reduce the risk of injuries as it makes the range of movement at a joint greater therefore reducing the risk of injury at that particular joint. If the athlete does not have good flexibility at a joint this may cause tightness and force another body part to compensate for this, for example tightness in the hamstrings could cause lower back problems.

Nutrition: A balanced diet is very important for an athlete as it affects the athlete’s energy levels and recovery, athletes who eat too much salt and do not drink enough water may experience cramp when exercising causing injury if severe enough. Athletes need to keep hydrated as it replaces lost fluids when exercising and not doing so may result in injury.

Sleep: Having little or lack of sleep increases hormones in the body that make you stressed, it also decreases the activity of the growth hormones which repair tissue which are damaged by exercise. Having little sleep also reduces the bodies capacity to break down glucose, all these factors can ultimately lead to injury. Having little sleep can also slow reaction time down which could cause injury in athletes as if they are playing cricket on little or no sleep and they are fielding the ball could end up hitting them on the head or breaking their fingers if they cannot react in time and adjust their body to the incoming stimulus.

Lordosis: This is excessive inwards curvature of the spine at the lower back this may stop you from participating in physical activity if your lordosis is to the extreme. You can build up muscles in your back to help support you however this may not always work.

Kyphosis: This is excessive outwards curvature of the thoratic spine which is mid back/shoulder blade region again you can build up the muscles in your back to help support you however if your kyphosis is too severe you will become impaired.

Scoliosis: This is another postural defect the same as lordosis and kyphosis however this is excessive side to side curvature of the spine.

Foot mechanics: If your foot supinates or pronates excessively this can cause injury further up the leg and even to the lower back as your leg will compensate.