Smoking increases risk of MSK injuries in military

Massage Therapy Canada staff
December 15, 2017
By Massage Therapy Canada staff
Smoking may increase the risk of musculoskeletal injuries among people in the military, a new study has concluded.

In the report, published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal by the American College of Sports Medicine, the authors reviewed and analyzed the literature on the impact of cigarette smoking on lower-extremity overuse injuries in military training.

"Tobacco use is common among military personnel, as is musculoskeletal injury during training. In a review of the literature on musculoskeletal injuries, there was mixed evidence on the role of smoking as a risk factor," the authors wrote.

The review showed that men and women who smoked had an increased risk of injury: 31 per cent higher among men, and 23 per cent higher among women, according to a statement from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

The study concluded that smoking is a "moderate risk factor" for musculoskeletal injury and may account for a meaningful proportion of injuries among men and women due to the high prevalence of smoking and injury in the military. Although enlistees are not allowed to smoke during basic training, their risk of injury remains high, indicating that smokers may remain at increased risk for medium- to long-term duration, the study said.

In addition, the investigators found a significant dose-response in this association; that is, those who smoked more had a higher risk of injury than those who smoked less. Among the heaviest smokers, the risk was increased 84 per cent among men and 56 per cent among women.

The study did not show precisely how long smoking affects injuries, but it appears that it increases the risk for at least several months. While this study was limited to military personnel, adult smokers in the general population who participate in exercise training also may be at moderate risk for overuse injuries, the ACSM said

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