Whether it’s softball, football, basketball tennis, golf or soccer, participating in sports can be a fun but physically demanding activity, making you prone to injury. Here are ten tips you can follow to minimize your risk of sustaining a sports injury and stay in the game:
Tip #1: Be sure to warm up before you play.
For example, play catch, take batting practice, jog around the field, or shoot baskets for about 10 minutes before the game or round starts. Warming up prepares your body for the more intense and competitive exercise you’re about to engage in. It gradually boosts your heart rate, pumping blood to your muscles and connective tissue to improve your mobility and the functionality of your body’s movements. By warming up, you’ll be less likely to suffer a muscle or tendon strain because your muscles will be loose and pliable.
Tip #2: Be sure to take refreshing breaks.
Allow yourself to cool down after strenuous play (e.g., between innings, sets, and quarters). Hydrate yourself and relax while you can. This will help flush out waste by-products and safely reduce your heart rate and blood pressure and allow your breathing to moderate. If you’ve been running, slow down to a trot or walk; or, if you’ve been swimming, float on your back for a while.
Tip #3: Stretch to loosen muscles and avoid strain.
After you cool down, do some stretching exercises to maintain flexibility in your main muscle groups, such as leg stretches after running or chest, shoulder, back and arm stretches after other sports that affect those body parts. This is another way to avoid muscle and tendon strains.
Tip #4: Focus on your technique.
How you play is important in avoiding sport injuries. There’s a time and place to sprint, pivot, jump, slide, and spin around. One wrong move and you can pull a muscle or tear a ligament. If necessary, seek guidance from your coach or other professional who can advise you on the correct training protocols. Record yourself going through your activities so they can be critiqued.
Tip #5: Use the right sports gear.
Choose the right footwear and wear any preventative equipment for your particular sport to avoid sprains, strains, fractures or head injury. Take the time to visit a retailer who specializes in sports gear, explain your requirements, and follow their advice especially when it comes to the right footwear.
Tip #6: Rest your body between sporting events or activities.
Allow your body to recover from your last game or training session, especially if you’ve sustained a minor injury (pulled muscle, bruise, etc.). If you neglect rest, you’ll only weaken your body and make it more susceptible to future injury.
Tip #7: Don’t overdo it when training or playing.
Too much practice or playing won’t make you stronger or necessarily a better athlete. In fact, it may have the opposite effect as your body can only take so much stress and impact.
Tip #8: Opt for a balanced health and fitness program.
This includes resistance training, cardiovascular and core training aimed at enhancing your flexibility and coordination to reduce the likelihood of injury, illness, or both. For example, if your sport requires running, stretch and train with weights.
Tip #9: Maintain good nutrition and hydration.
This is an important part of total training and injury-free sports performance. Eat small meals regularly. Avoiding long gaps between your meals and snacks helps prevent energy lows. Be sure to get plenty of lean protein since it is critical for growth and repair. Stick to an unprocessed diet as much as you can. This of course also means keeping your body hydrated, not only during your activity, but off the field or court as well.
Tip #10: Work with a sports therapist.
Whether it’s a team or private physician, a sports therapist can restore your body to its pre-game condition with skilled massage and other techniques to treat and prevent injuries.
The orthopedic surgeons at Colorado Center for Orthopaedic Excellence diagnose and treat all kinds of sports injuries. For expert and compassionate care in the Colorado Springs area, call (719) 623-1050 for an appointment today.