While some sports injuries are inevitable and just bad luck, many can be avoided by adhering to the following guidelines:
When starting a new sport or form of exercise, always make sure to start slowly and gradually increase the intensity, frequency and duration of the activity.
For example, it is common for people to start running to start running as far as they can, as fast as they can and increasing very quickly. This is a mistake and often leads to overuse injuries such as shin splints. Instead, training should start slowly with walk / jog sessions and plenty of cool down. As a general rule, the distance (or time) should not increase by more than 10% per week.
The same applies to all sports. Playing a full football game, for example, without training or previous match experience, will predispose the individual to injury, as fatigue is a common factor in injury.
For any sport or exercise, using the right equipment and using it in the right way is important. For example, the use of shin guards in football and rugby is recommended to prevent spike injuries to the shin. Helmets are recommended for hitting cricket and also for sports like American football.
It’s not just the protective gear that’s important. In tennis, using a racquet that is too heavy or with too little grip can result in a tennis elbow. Likewise, a hockey stick that is too short can lead to back pain.
Even using the wrong footwear can lead to injury. Not only should the shoes be suitable for the sport (i.e. running shoes for running, soccer shoes for football), but they should also be suitable for the individual, in terms of size and adjustment, but also support. Some people may need more arch support than others if they have a dropped arch or the foot overpronates (rolls inward when walking / running). Not having the right support can lead to overuse injuries such as stress fractures and plantar fasciitis.
Another good way to avoid injury is to follow the rules. The rules are there not only to promote fair play, but also for the safety of the player. For example, lifting the ball in normal play in hockey and football tackles with the cleats raised is against the rules of the sport to protect the safety of the players.
It is recommended to perform a warm-up regardless of the type of sport or exercise in which you practice. Starting with light cardiovascular work like jogging or jumping, followed by some stretching and then sport-specific exercises, helps prepare the body for the more vigorous demands of the sport itself. It ensures that the muscles are warm and flexible. Cold, tight muscles are more likely to tear. It also helps improve hand-eye coordination and reaction times. Again, these are important for preventing injury and improving performance!
Cooling and recovery
After a game, it is advisable to perform a recovery. This will help remove wastes such as lactic acid that cause muscle pain and stiffness. Cooling down will slowly reduce the heart rate to prevent blood pooling in the limbs. Stretching after exercise will also help reduce stiffness and thus promote faster recovery. The faster you recover, the sooner you are ready to play again!
It is also important to make sure that you get adequate recovery and rest time. It is generally said that improvements in strength and speed etc. are actually made when we are resting and that is true. It is during this time that muscles develop and repair themselves.
Training or playing again too early before your body is fully repaired means that the muscles may not work properly and will tire easily. It can lead to injury. Fatigued hamstrings have been shown to be more likely to tear!
For more information on sports injuries, prevention and rehabilitation, visit www.sportsinjuryclinic.net