The health of the Western world is in rapid decline. The ever-increasing rates of chronic disease and musculoskeletal injuries are creating a huge cost on our health care systems, private insurers and public in general. A worldwide review by Deloitte in 2016 revealed that Australia has a health care expenditure of $7430 per capita, per annum (1), and this is set to grow with increasing sedentary lifestyles and an ageing population. Some other key stats for the Australian population:
- As at 2001, 6 million people (32%) had a disease of musculoskeletal system and connective tissues as long-term conditions, arthritis being a big part of this group. (2)
- Total direct cost for overweight and obesity in 2005 was $21 billion ($6.5 billion for overweight and $14.5 billion for obesity). The same study estimated indirect costs of $35.6 billion per year, resulting in an overall total annual cost of $56.6 billion. (2)
- An estimated 20 percent of adult Australians suffer chronic pain. More women than men experience chronic pain. It’s most common in women in the 50-54 age bracket and men in the 55-59 age bracket. (3)
- Injury is the most common cause of chronic pain (38 percent) (4). Chronic pain is estimated to cost the Australian economy $34.3 billion each year, which equates to $10,847 for each person with the condition.
- In 2014-15 the Australian Government spent $5.8 billion on the Private Health Insurance Rebate. (5)
- Globally, years lived with disability caused by low back pain increased by 54% between 1990 and 2015. This taking the total with low back pain disability to 7.3% of the entire global population!!
So, I think we have established there are extraordinarily high costs related to injury and disease. Whilst I acknowledge a large percentage of the above-mentioned costs are unavoidable, due to traumatic injury, genetics (disease), and necessary surgeries, a large percentage IS avoidable. This can be achieved through lifestyle changes, injury prevention strategies, (which is not just for the elite athlete!), and improved strength and fitness.
So what if there was an industry with a sole focus to stop injury and chronic disease from ever happening in the first place? An industry where it’s participants have completed comprehensive and relevant study coupled with practical experience specialising in this area. Sounds magical doesn’t it. Seems like that would be the perfect service offering for private health insurers and government to offer a rebate, encouraging everyone to use this industry for one simple reason. Because it is better for the population, and far less costly on insurers and government over the long run. Prevention is better than the cure.
Well here’s the hot tip, there is an industry whose sole focus is to prevent injury & chronic disease and improve performance in all physical aspects of life: Performance Coaches, Strength & Conditioning Coaches, Exercise Scientists & Exercise Physiologists.
Physiotherapists, Osteopaths, Massage Therapists and other allied health providers should of course be covered, they play such a critical role in helping people recover from injury when it unfortunately happens. Particularly the industry leading team we have at Absolute! But, so too should highly qualified and experienced coaches, Exercise Scientists & Exercise Physiologists (Note: EP’s are covered for 5 sessions under Medicare’s EPC plan but private coverage is very limited). As a caveat, there must be a very high education and experience standard set for this, not just health insurance cover for any cert 4, master trainer or local under-qualified gym PT, as this could be costly. I detail the difference here and what to look for in a coach here.
So, what does the research show for strength training and its’ relevance for preventing injury & disease? Here is just the tip of the iceberg:
- Prevents falls and injury in the ageing population. (6)
- Prevents lower limb injuries in footballers. (7)
- Reduces ACL injury rates by up to 70% in field athletes. (8)
- A near 50% reduction in knee and ankle injuries in young athletes. (9)
- Working with a Coach helps people increase muscular strength and size, as well as simultaneously improving their aerobic fitness. (10)
- Strength training leads to lower rates of mortality, disability and improved quality of life. You can find out many references and more about the importance of increasing your lean tissue for all aspects of health, injury prevention and disease in my article here.
- Improving strength and endurance of the spinal stability musculature decreases risks of back pain in golfers (11). And for the rest of us too!
This list is just the beginning. I acknowledge that the above stats predominantly relate to sports, however, that is simply because more research is done in this field.
All elite sport models have full time preventative/prehab and strength training each and every week, to keep their players from getting injured. Why? Because it works and saves them money in the long run. The same approach works for the general population.
Don’t you think it’s time we moved to a more proactive health care model and away from the current costly reactive model? I’m all for it.
Written by Head Performance Coach David Smith
- Deloitte.com. (2018). Available at: https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/global/Documents/Life-Sciences-Health-Care/gx-lshc-2016-health-care-outlook.pdf [Accessed 27 Feb. 2018]
- Abs.gov.au. (2018). 4823.0.55.001 – Musculoskeletal Conditions in Australia: A Snapshot, 2001. [online] Available at: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/[email protected]/0/9E7B7AFA9DF69E20CA2571F60017A972?OpenDocument [Accessed 27 Feb. 2018].
- Colagiuri S, Lee CMY, Colagiuri R et al. (2010) The cost of overweight and obesity in Australia. Med J Aust 192: 260–64
- Specialists, V. and Specialists, V. (2018). THE BURDEN OF CHRONIC PAIN, ITS BIGGEST FIVE CAUSES AND TREATMENTS. [online] Pain Specialists Australia (formerly Victoria Pain Specialists). Available at: https://painspecialistsaustralia.com.au/blog/2016/7/24/the-burden-of-chronic-pain-its-biggest-five-causes-and-treatments [Accessed 27 Feb. 2018].
- Health.gov.au. (2018). Department of Health | Private Health Insurance Consultations 2015-16. [online] Available at: http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/Content/PHIconsultations2015-16
- Province MA, Hadley EC, Hornbrook MC, Lipsitz LA, Miller JP, Mulrow CD, Ory MG, Sattin RW, Tinetti ME, Wolf SL, Schechtman KB, Arfken CL, Rossiter-Fornoff J, Stevens VJ, Wingfield DJ, Greenlick MR, Baker DI, Claus EB, Horwitz RI, Buchner DM, Wagner EH, de Lateur BJ, Cress ME, Price R, Abrass IB, Esselman P, Marguerita T, CD, Mulrow, Gerety MB, Cornell JE, DeNino LA, Kanten D, Kutner NG, Green RC, McNeely E, Coogler C, Fiatarone MA, O’Neill EF, Ryan ND, T D, Clements KM, Kehayias JJ, Roberts SB, Evans WJ, Wallace R, Ross JE, Huston JC, Kundel CJ, Sellberg MS, Wolfson LI, Whipple RH, Amerman PM, Judge JO, Derby CA, King MB, Tamboli A, Weiss S. The Effects of Exercise on Falls in Elderly PatientsA Preplanned Meta-analysis of the FICSIT Trials. 1995;273(17):1341–1347.
- Barengo NC, Meneses-Echávez JF, Ramírez-Vélez R, Cohen DD, Tovar G, Bautista JE. The impact of the FIFA 11+ training program on injury prevention in football players: a systematic review. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014;11(11):11986–12000.
- Olsen, O., Myklebust, G., Engebretsen, L., Holme, I. and Bahr, R. (2005). Exercises to prevent lower limb injuries in youth sports: cluster randomised controlled trial. BMJ, 330(7489), p.449.
- Storer, T., Dolezal, B., Berenc, M., Timmins, J. and Cooper, C. (2014). Effect of Supervised, Periodized Exercise Training vs. Self-Directed Training on Lean Body Mass and Other Fitness Variables in Health Club Members. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 28(7), pp.1995-2006.
- Lindsay, D. and A. Vandervoort, A. (2018). Golf-Related Low Back Pain: A Review of Causative Factors and Prevention Strategies.
- Hartvigsen, J., Hancock, M.J., Kongsted, A., Louw, Q., Ferreira, M.L., Genevay, S., Hoy, D., Karppinen, J., Pransky, G., Sieper, J., Smeets, R.J. & Underwood, M. What low back pain is, and why we need to pay attention to it. Published online March 21, 2018 http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)30480-X