Prevent sports injuries this fall so you can stay in the game. Sports injuries often occur because players forget safety guidelines or push themselves too hard. Simple decisions can make all the difference when it comes to your health.
The most common sports injuries include sprains and strains, knee injuries, swollen muscles, Achilles tendon injuries, shin pain, fractures and dislocations.
There are two types of sports injuries:
Acute injuries occur while playing. Symptoms include sudden severe pain, swelling, not being able to bear weight, tenderness, joint pain, extreme leg or arm weakness or a bone or joint that’s visibly out of place.
Chronic injuries occur when you play a specific sport for a long time. You may feel pain when you play or a dull ache when you’re resting. You may have swelling.
Fortunately, you can prevent sports injuries by following safety guidelines every time you play. Here are 10 simple, yet effective tips to prevent sport injuries.
- Don’t overdo it. In other words, don’t be a weekend warrior who tries to fit a week’s worth of exercise into two days. Aside from knowing your body’s limit, you need to build up your exercise level gradually. If you’re out of shape, come up with a reasonable plan to regain your strength and endurance.
- Use safety gear. Make sure you always wear a helmet if it’s recommended or other safety gear. The one time you don’t use your gear, could be the day you get seriously injured.
- Use proper form. Whether you’re a dancer or a football player, proper form protects your joints and muscles during strenuous activities. For example, don’t bend your knees more than halfway during knee bends. When you stretch, don’t twist your knees. When jumping, land with your knees bent.
- Warm up and cool down. Take time to always warm up your muscles. If it’s cold out or you’re older, it may take longer than 10 to 12 minutes to adequately warm up. Cool downs are also important. Suddenly stopping when your heart rate’s elevated can pose health risks. Keep moving to let your heart rate slow down gradually.
- Take time to stretch. Many players stretch once they are warmed up before heading into the game. Stretching after exercise helps prevent injury and promotes flexibility. Make sure to stretch after strength training, too.
- Wear appropriate footwear. Running shoes are for running. Cross-training shoes are for cross-training. The right footwear helps prevent shin splints, knee pain and hip pain.
- Exercise on the softest surface you can find. Don’t run on asphalt or concrete. Your knees will thank you for finding a soft, dirt trail or the nearest treadmill.
- Don’t play if you’re tired. Many players make mistakes if they play when they’re tired. It’s easy to forget proper form and overexert yourself.
- Stay hydrated. Drink water before you play whether it’s hot or cold outside. Your body needs hydration to function. Replace fluids as you sweat. Choose water over sugar-sweetened beverages.
- Consult the pros. Learn how to prevent and treat injuries properly by training with a certified athletic trainer. If you’re injured, consult an orthopaedic specialist.
Source: National Institutes of Health
+ Virginia Orthopaedic and Spine Specialists, in conjunction with Bon Secours Hampton Roads, offers a full continuum of orthopaedic sports performance care that includes the most up-to-date equipment for treatment in Hampton Roads. Our state-of-the-art rehabilitation centers feature new innovations in sports medicine.