Top 10 Ways to Prevent a Sports-Related Injury
Playing sports is a great way to exercise, and that doesn’t have to stop once you’re an adult. Sports, either recreational or competitive, can be fun, and an ideal way to socialize and maintain fitness. But when we’re active, we also increase the chance of getting an injury.
Sporting activities may result in any type of injury; however, certain sports are more likely to result in specific type of injuries. We often categorize injuries on whether they are related to acute trauma or chronic overuse. These injuries can include muscle strains, tendon injuries, ligament tears, meniscus tears, and cartilage injuries.
These injuries are painful and often require missing games and practices-- and can hamper your daily life-- to give your body the proper rest and care needed to recover. Unfortunately, a previous injury is one of the most significant predictors of a future injury. That’s why injury prevention—not just treatment or recovery—is key.
Here are my top injury prevention tips:
- Arrange for an athletic screening. Talk with your doctor about any past sports injuries during your next checkup or before the next season starts. Your doctor can recommend corrective exercises to help you be more resistant to a future injury.
- Maintain cardiovascular fitness. By keeping your heart health as optimized as possible, you’ll be better able to handle the rigors of the sport.
- Encourage good nutrition and hydration. This will enable the whole body to function to prevent injury.
- Be aware of the environment and field conditions. Environment doesn’t just mean the weather, although that is important, but also how safely teammates and the opponents are playing. Also, check out the field or court where you’re playing. Ice or wet spots on a court or holes in the field can set the stage for a fall and result in an injury.
- Make sure you develop the technical skills and proper biomechanics for the sport. A baseball player without good mechanics is more susceptible to injury. Likewise, a soccer player without good neuromuscular control is more likely to get hurt. Learn the right movements for the sport.
- Use the protective equipment appropriate to the sport. Whether it is a helmet, mouth guard, cleats or shin guards, wear the gear that increases your safety.
- Always include a warm up, cool down and recovery for each activity. Every athlete should complete a dynamic warm up before exercising and a cool down afterward. The cool down ensures the muscles and tendons are resilient and recover properly.
- Watch for athletic sportsmanship—or lack thereof. When athletes don’t play by the rules or play too aggressively, an injury is more likely to occur. Watch to ensure officials and members of the other team demonstrate a good understanding of fair play.
- Recognize an injury. Despite our best efforts, an injury can happen. If it does, the most important thing is to address it. If you’re injured, take yourself out of the game and have the injury assessed so it doesn’t get worse.
- If an injury occurs, it’s vital to appropriately manage the healing process. Before going back into the game, give yourself time to heal completely. You might talk with your doctor to assess why the injury occurred and develop a strategy to prevent the injury from happening again.
By taking these smart steps to avoid (and if necessary, address) injuries, you can set the stage for a life-long, healthy love of sports.
Get a Free Guide to Prevention of Sports Injuries
While exercise and sports-related activities often have a positive impact on our lives, they can also lead to serious injury. When you are faced with a sports injury or condition, expert care is crucial to maintaining optimal health and a high quality of life. At the Orlando Health Orthopedic Institute, our multidisciplinary sports medicine team is committed to providing exceptional orthopedic care to help you return to your active, pain-free lifestyle. Download a free Guide to Prevention of Sports Injuries for information on symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and more.Get Your Guide