Defence: It is impossible to plan an injury-free exercise program

Plan a regime that guarantees no training injuries? Dalen-Lorentsen concludes no, even though these regimes are very popular. Individual differences make it all too complicated to achieve.



December 16


Aud. Innsikt - NIH




  • Torstein Dalen-Lorentsen is a research fellow at the Department of Sports Medicine at NIH.
  • On December 16, he defends his doctoral dissertation:
    "Training load and health problems in football – More complex than we first thought?"

Sudden increase in training load has been linked to increased risk of injuries and illnesses (health problems). In the past years, researchers have claimed that easy-to-use calculations can precisely estimate how much training load can increase without increasing the risk of health problems. In this PhD-project, we found that it’s not possible to assess risk of health problems based on training load, and that the studies claiming this has substantial methodological weaknesses. Moreover, we found that using an one-size-fits-all approach of training load management did not reduce the risk of health problems among almost 500 elite-youth footballers of both sexes.

Despite a lack of models accurately estimating risk based on training load and lack of evidence for its preventive effect, we should still use training load management. Without more complex models, we should lean on the basic training principles and follow an even progression of training load that is based on the coaches’ experience and the players’ need.

This PhD-project also investigated whether the match congested 2020 Norwegian premier league (Eliteserien) had different injury characteristics compared to the normal 2019-season. We found no differences.


Most important findings

  • It is not possible to estimate health problem risk based on training load.
  • Training load management using an one-size-fits-all approach did not reduce health problems among 500 elite-youth footballers
  • When implementing health problem preventive measures, a focus on performance is equally important as a focus of prevention
  • Coaches and players have a symbiotic relationship when it comes to implementation of health problem preventive measures
  • Playing a match-congested season can be a safe alternative for the Norwegian Eliteserien



  • Hege Grindem, Associate Professor, Department of Sports Medicine, NIH (chair)
  • Dr. Michel S. Brink, Center for Human Movement Sciences, University of Groningen (1st opponent)
  • Professor Franco Impellizzeri, Human Performance Research Centre, Faculty of Health, University of Technology Sydney (2nd opponent)



09:00 - 09:45 - Trial lecture
"How can adherence to sports injury and illness prevention measures improve and do contemporary models of health behavior play a role?"

10:30 - 13:30 - Public defence
Training load and health problems in football - More complex than first thought?

(Schedule subject to change.)

General information

The defence is open to the public.


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Solveig Sunde

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