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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2015

Risk factors of acute and overuse musculoskeletal injuries among young conscripts: a population-based cohort study

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2015
Henri Taanila, Jaana H Suni, Pekka Kannus, Harri Pihlajamäki, Juha-Petri Ruohola, Jarmo Viskari, Jari Parkkari
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

HT wrote the first draft of the manuscript. HT, JHS, PK and JP participated in data analysis, interpretation and data acquisition. JHS was the primary investigator together with JP. They initiated and conceptually designed the study and took part in manuscript reviewing. PK also participated in the study as a significant manuscript reviewer. HP participated in study concept and design as well as manuscript reviewing. JPR and JV took part in data analysis and interpretation and revised the manuscript critically. All authors have made substantive intellectual contributions to the study. All authors reviewed the article and gave the final approval of the manuscript.



Military service in Finland is compulsory for all male citizens and annually about 80% of 19-year-old men enter into the service. The elevated risk for many chronic diseases and loss of function among those who are inactive and unfit can be often detected already in youth. On the other hand, activity-induced injuries among young are true public health issue. The purpose of the present prospective cohort follow-up study was to evaluate predictive associations between acute or overuse injuries and their various intrinsic risk factors.


Four successive cohorts of conscripts who formed a representative sample of Finnish young men were followed for 6 months. At the beginning of the service, the risk factors of injuries were measured and recorded and then the acute and overuse injuries treated at the garrison clinic were identified. Predictive associations between injuries and their risk factors were examined by multivariate Cox’s proportional hazard models.


Of the 1411 participants, 27% sustained an acute injury and 51% suffered from overuse injury. Concerning acute injuries, highest risk for severe injuries were detected among conscripts with low fitness level in both the standing long-jump and push-up tests (hazard rate, HR=5.9; 95% CI: 1.6‒21.3). A history of good degree in school sports was not a protective factor against acute injuries. High waist circumference and, on the other hand, being underweight according to BMI increased the HR for overuse injuries. Brisk leisure time physical activity before military entry was a protective factor against overuse injuries. Poor result in Cooper’s test was a warning signal of elevated risk of overuse injuries.


We confirmed previous findings that low level of physical fitness is predictor for musculoskeletal injuries during intensive physical training. The U-shaped relationship between body composition and overuse injuries was noticed indicating that both obesity and underweight are risk factors for overuse injuries. Persons with excellent sports skills according to their earlier degrees in school sports had similar HR for acute injuries than those with poorer degrees. This indicates that school-age sports skills and fitness do not carry far and therefore preventive programmes are needed to prevent activity-induced injuries.
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