The WOA Olympians Health Study

The WOA Olympians Health Study is the first-ever worldwide study into injury prevalence in Olympians. It was commissioned to further the understanding of the long-term health issues faced by Olympians and to generate new insights into those issues so that recommendations and protocols can be proposed to reduce the chances of injury and its long-term effects.

The large-scale study saw more than 3000 retired Olympians from 131 countries, representing 57 Olympic sports, participate. The ground-breaking findings will support future research and policy making to improve the lives of Olympians now and in the future.

Key findings include:

  • 63% of Olympians reported at least one significant Olympic career-related injury
  • Injuries most frequently affected the knee (20.6%), lumbar spine (13.1%) and shoulder/clavicle (12.9%)
  • Female injury (68.1%) prevalence was higher than male (59.2%)
  • 63.8% of injuries were attributed to training
  • A third of Olympians reported current, ongoing pain (32.4%) and functional limitation (35.9%) as a result of injuries sustained during their Olympic career
  • Olympians taking the survey said that the benefits of sport outweighed any health issues and they would “do it all over again”

WOA commissioned three-time Olympian Dr Debbie Palmer OLY, a lecturer and researcher in sports injury and illness prevention at Edinburgh Napier University to run the survey and analyse the results. 

The paper which was recently published is the first of a number of papers which WOA will be publishing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Papers two and three will go into more detail on specific injuries, sports and demographics

To view the WOA Olympians Health Study click HERE.