In this post, Roxanne Mathews, our Registered Physiotherapist and Certified Athletic Trainer, gives her perspective on preventing sports injuries.
Sports injuries – injuries that occur while engaged in sport or exercise – are one of the leading causes for patients coming to see me at the clinic. Some sports injuries are unavoidable and are simply a risk of playing the game; however, the frequency of certain injuries, particularly chronic injuries or those involving equipment, could be greatly reduced if essential safety, conditioning, and preventative strategies were followed.
Although everyone shares a risk for sports injuries, such injuries are more prevalent under certain circumstances. Training too hard and a history of injury can both increase the chances of sports injury in active individuals.
Training Too Hard
Our bodies are not meant to train and play seven days a week. Rest days allow muscles, tendons, ligaments, and other connective tissues time to repair themselves between days of training.
Training, no doubt, is good for our bodies in more ways than one. Yet it must be understood that training puts stress on our muscles and joints. The stress is necessary to develop stronger muscles and better athletes, but too much stress on our bodies without rest periods actually leads to body systems breaking down – as opposed to end effect that we are trying to achieve.
To gain desired effects while reducing chances of injury, it is best to allow at least one rest day between every two days of training.
When an injury does occur, manage it appropriately. Another common reason for injury is actually re-injury.
When you try to return to play with an injury that has not been cared for and rehabilitated correctly, you put yourself at an increased risk of going through the same injury again.
You may also develop chronic problems related to the specific muscle group or joint that will do nothing but hinder your progress as an athlete.
Do yourself – and your future – a favour: properly rehabilitate both acute and chronic injuries when they happen, before subjecting yourself to the previous demands of your sport.
Additional Sports Injury Prevention Tips
- Always warm up before play, and always cool down after. Take about 10 minutes to perform some light activity and stretching prior to your exercise, and the same for about 5 minutes after your exercise. Learn the stretching conducive to your sport.
After some light activity, such as a short jog, make sure you go through the appropriate stretching. Properly warming up and cooling down not only prevents injury, but also improves performance! (We’d be happy to give you some tips and show you some examples of stretches that would benefit your sport if you wish to make an appointment with us at BodyMend.)
- Do not play or exercise while you are in pain, or when you are tired. Your body will tell you when it is not performing up to par. Listen to it, and you will prevent a great deal of chronic injuries including, but not limited to: muscle pulls, strains, and sprains. Rest, get yourself well, and then exercise. This can take a matter of hours, or weeks, depending on the circumstances.
- When returning to sport, don’t do too much too soon. When returning from an injury, or from a halt in exercise for other reasons, don’t throw your body back into where it left off. During your time off, your muscles have rested, possibly shortened, and have gotten used to their new levels of activity. Trying to return to where you left off will put your body into shock, thereby putting itself at risk for injury.
Instead, gradually increase the amount of time and exercise level. This way, you will surely reach your pre-desired potential without injury. This advice also applies when you are beginning a new sport – take the time to learn proper form and technique before engaging in full-out play.
- Wear proper safety equipment and footwear. Helmets, shin pads, shoes, etc. are all necessary equipment for a number of sports. Wearing these does not make you look “weak”, but smart.Also, ensure you wear properly fitting and comfortable shoes, skates, or other footwear required for your sport. Realize how much weight our feet need to hold up – footwear is not something to skimp out on!
I hope these tips have increased your knowledge about sports and injuries. However, as noted previously, injuries are a risk of any sport. Your job is to be as safe as you can and avoid the preventable injuries.
>> If you are injured through sport or exercise, please contact us at BodyMend. We will be happy to discuss your injury, your options, and the recommended physiotherapy. Our goal is always your goal – to return you to pain-free activity and sport as quickly, yet as safely, as possible.
Like this? You might also like:
- Preventing Sports Injuries: How a Physiotherapy Team Can Help
- Building a Better You: Exercise Balls and Bands
- Your Initial Physiotherapy Visit: What to Expect