Coaches, sport scientists, clinicians and medical personnel face a constant challenge to prescribe sufficient training load to produce training adaption while minimising fatigue, performance inhibition and risk of injury/illness.
The aim of this review was to investigate the relationship between injury and illness and longitudinal training load and fatigue markers in sporting populations.
Systematic searches of the Web of Science and PubMed online databases to August 2015 were conducted for articles reporting relationships between training load/fatigue measures and injury/illness in athlete populations.
From the initial 5943 articles identified, 2863 duplicates were removed, followed by a further 2833 articles from title and abstract selection. Manual searching of the reference lists of the remaining 247 articles, together with use of the Google Scholar ‘cited by’ tool, yielded 205 extra articles deemed worthy of assessment. Sixty-eight studies were subsequently selected for inclusion in this study, of which 45 investigated injury only, 17 investigated illness only, and 6 investigated both injury and illness. This systematic review highlighted a number of key findings, including disparity within the literature regarding the use of various terminologies such as training load, fatigue, injury and illness. Athletes are at an increased risk of injury/illness at key stages in their training and competition, including periods of training load intensification and periods of accumulated training loads.