The Sports and Exercise Safety in Finland Program (LiVE)
Sports activities are considered to be beneficial to health. On the other hand, participating in sports can also be dangerous by increasing the risk of acute and overuse injuries.
Number of sports injuries has increased considerably in Finland during the past decades, and today, sports injuries are the most common injury type in our country. Treating of these injuries is often difficult, expensive, and time consuming, and thus, preventive strategies and activities are justified on individual as well as medical and economic grounds.
Figure 1. Injuries in Finland 1980-2009 (The National Institute for Wellfare and Health, THL)
The purpose of The Sports and Exercise Safety in Finland program (LiVE) is to increase physical activity in general and safety of sports and exercise in a nationwide setting.
Program is financially supported by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture (education and research projects) and the Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (education and campaigns).
Behind it all is research
LiVE research projects focus on sports-specific injury incidence, risk factors, mechanisms and prevention strategies. Study findings are delivered to the field by communication and education.
Two large randomized controlled studies have been carried out, one among female athletes and another among army recruits. Also, numerous original studies of injury epidemiology in different sports have been published. The findings of these studies have indicated that sports injuries are true public health problem in Finland. However, a remarkable part of these injuries can be prevented by enhancing awareness of injury risks, increasing quality and contents of training and drills, and taking care of safety environment and equipment in sport.
Implementation of LiVE programs
Implementation of injury prevention is conducted in three nationwide campaigns:
- Safety in School Sports, TEKO (since 2010)
- The main target group of the Safety in School Sports is elementary school pupils (mainly secondary scool, grades 7 to 9) and their teachers.
- Healthy Athlete (since 2006)
- The main target group of the Healthy Athlete is young athletes (age 12-20) and their coaches and parents.
LiVE program’s main communication channels are websites: www.tervekoululainen.fi, www.terveurheilija.fi and www.smartmoves.fi. Websites contain information packages, practical toolkits, videos, and posters etc. These materials can be used in many different ways in both school and sports settings.
The Element-wall crystallizes the core of the Safety in School Sports program. It provides information and know-how on smart PE- and health education and teaching and on sports itself.
The Ten-Point Circle crystallizes the core of the Healthy Athlete program. It provides information and know-how on smart coaching, training and sports.
During 2006-2011 LiVE program has educated 70 LiVE-tutors who work in different organisations (e.g. Finnish Ice Hockey Association and Finnish Gymnastics Federation).
In addition, LiVE program has appeared annually in about 30 different events (e.g. European Youth Olympic Summer Festival 2009, Power Mover 2010, Floorball World Championship 2010, PE teachers national study days 2010 and 2011, several different international conferences) and has organized several seminars to improve safety in sports.
LiVE websites have attracted 4000–6000 visitors and 40 000–60 000 hits per month.