Finding the right balance: determining safe and healthy physical activity load


  • Amsterdam Movement Sciences


Physical activity leads to many health benefits but also entails a risk of injury. Injuries often lead to reduced physical activity levels and can even cause dropout from exercise. A large amount of injuries (30-40%) require medical attention, producing substantial health care costs.

Injuries occur when the stress applied to a tissue (load) is greater than the stress the tissue can withstand (load capacity). Fatigue reduces the load capacity of tissue and thus increases the risk of injury. Therefore, appropriate recovery is required between activity sessions. 

Finding the right balance between activity load and recovery is a common goal for sports participants to minimise injury risk and optimise health and performance outcomes. However, there is currently little high-quality evidence on the association between activity load, recovery, and injury risk. Further, the analytical methods used in previous studies are known to produce biased estimates. 

The proposed project aims to establish injury risk profile charts visualizing the individual risk of sport participants based on a multifactorial profile. The outcomes will support sports and clinical practice in managing activity load and recovery to prevent injury. 

Our results will lead to activity-, sex-, age- and population-specific recommendations on how to be as active as possible (for recreational sports) or train as much as possible (for high-level athletes) without getting injured. Together with our clinical partners, we will translate the findings into risk profiles to enable clinical recommendations.