Accidents can happen while participating in a sport or during exercise. One wrong move or a collision in the field may result in a painful injury. Strains, sprains, joint injuries (ankle, shoulder, knee), dislocations, fractures, muscle injuries, pain in the shin bone, and Achilles tendon injuries are only some of the common sports injuries.
There’s good news, though. It’s possible to limit the severity and number of injuries. How? Read on to learn more on the basic ways to prevent injuries no matter what sport you play.
1. Develop a Realistic Fitness Plan
A basic step to prevent a sports injury is to create a fitness plan that includes strength training, flexibility, and cardiovascular exercise. Alternating exercises of different muscle groups will also help.
Take note, however, that it is crucial that your fitness plan should be realistic, sustainable, and achievable. Let’s say your goal is to run a specific distance, lift a particular amount of weight, or swim more laps. Make sure it would be obtainable and will allow you to gradually improve.
Also, take time to consult your primary care provider and discuss your options.
Part of this step to prevent sports injuries is to condition your body. This usually has multiple components, including endurance, coordination, balance, agility, speed, and strength.
2. Warm-Up and Cool Down Properly
A dynamic warmup, which involves moving while you stretch, is important for injury prevention. In fact, a review published in the Sports Medicine journal stated that a stretching protocol or warm-up 15 minutes immediately prior to the activity provides the most medicine to athletes on deterring injuries
A gentle cardiovascular exercise, like jogging, or any sport-specific movements that engage the primary and secondary muscles is recommended. Warming up increases blood flow to soften the tissues and improves performance, preventing sprains, tears, and strains.
In the same way, cooling down properly allows gradual recovery of pre-exercise blood pressure and heart rate. Best of all, cooling down doesn’t even take long. About four to ten minutes could already kick your body’s recovery process.
3. Use the Right Gear or Equipment
Athletes and fitness enthusiasts should wear properly-fitted protective gars and use the right equipment.
The quality of your equipment – mouth guards, shoes, helmets, knee guards, vertical jump training equipment, padding, to name a few – will help you improve safety in sports. And when you’re free from injury and remain healthy, you can participate in more sporting events and play longer. Thus, you enjoy the activity more thoroughly.
4. Eat a Well-Balanced Diet
The time to eat properly is not just the day before and during the game. It should be weeks before the competition. At best, work with a sports nutritionist who can determine what food groups are best for your sport and make sure to stick with that recommendation.
Usually, a healthy diet includes fruits, lean proteins, and vegetables. It is also important to observe a regular eating schedule. For example, eat your breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the same time every day.
5. Receive Proper Hydration
Stay hydrated. Adequate water intake will prevent dehydration, heatstroke, and heat exhaustion. And good hydration means getting the proper amount of water before, during, and after a workout or sport. Water will help lubricate your joints and regulation your body temperature.
Not only that. Water will transport nutrients to your body to keep you healthy and give you energy throughout the day. Not drinking enough water means you can’t perform at your highest level.
But how much water should you drink while exercising? Well, there’s no exact rule because everybody is different. You also have to consider the humidity and heat in the environment, how hard and long you exercise, and your sweat rate.
Generally, the American Council on Exercise recommends 17 to 20 ounces (2 to 2.5 glasses) of water two hours before working out.
6. Take Time Off
Learning a new sport and getting in shape takes time. Avoid pushing yourself too hard, too soon. Allow enough time for your body to adjust by gradually increasing your training level.
For example, when running, gradually increase the mileage and give time for your muscles, joints, and bones to recover between workouts. And when you’re injured, please avoid playing or workout. This is a really important step.
We understand that it’s tempting to get right back on the field after being injured, but it would be a bad idea to do so if you have not fully healed yet. It may just worsen your injury or worse, may sideline you for a long period.
So, be honest with your coach if you’re hurt and see your doctor when necessary.
7. Play by the Rules
In every sport, there is a right and wrong way of doing things. In football, for instance, players have the proper way to tackle an opponent so they will avoid a concussion.
Remember that the rules of sports are not just there to make the game more exciting and challenging. When properly followed, rules should ensure fewer injuries and accidents in the games.
Even when you’re working out, you have to use good form and technique. This reduces overcompensation on your muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Plus, good form supports better oxygen intake.
8. Listen to Your Body
A short-lived or mild muscle ache is considered “good pain” because it enhances your endurance and strength. As you push your physical boundaries, you optimize your athletic performance.
Not just athletes, but even fitness novices and buffs alike recognize this through the saying, “No pain, no gain.” However, pain in your joints is no longer normal. So, it would be best to adjust your physical activities the moment your body shows signs of too much stress.
Whether you’re an athlete or just playing sports for fitness, follow the tips above so you won’t have to worry about getting sidelined. And if you do sustain a sports injury, protect the injured area right away until medical help arrives. Get your doctor’s OK before getting back on track to avoid worsening an existing injury.