5 simple ways to help prevent sports injuries
You’re fit, you’re strong, you’re healthy and you love your sport. It could be a team game like football, netball or cricket or a solo ‘me time’ sport like running, cycling or swimming.
Whatever it is, it’s a time when you feel alive and engaged. So, it’s really demoralising when injury strikes. Not only are you in pain, you’ve lost your outlet for exercise and socialising.
Sport carries some risks that you can’t prevent. There’s nothing you can do about another player colliding with you in a bad tackle that leaves you with a concussion or fracture.
You can reduce the risk of certain injuries though. Here are 5 simple ways to help prevent sport injuries.
1. Warm up (and cool down) properly
Some days don’t go as you hoped. If you’ve been held up at work or stuck in traffic, you may arrive late at training, feeling flustered and rushed.
You want to race onto the pitch and start playing. Don’t skip the warm up though.
Warming up primes your body for a good work out by:
- Slowly raising your heart rate
- Dilating your blood vessels
- Supplying your muscles with more oxygen
- Raising muscle temperature for better flexibility and increased efficiency.
Your pre-workout stretches increase range of motion and eases the stress on joints and tendons.
Cooling down is just as important. It helps your body wind down slowly, avoiding a rapid drop in heart rate or blood pressure.
2. Use the correct equipment
If you’re playing sport, accept the fact that you’ll need to fork out for the right gear.
Get the shin pads, helmet, quality trainers or whatever else will support you on the field. A helmet, for example, can protect you from severe concussion or other head injuries. And the right trainers help your body absorb impact, helping to prevent overuse injuries like runner’s knee.
Yes, all that costs money, especially since you will need to keep updating or replacing your gear over time. But it’s much nicer to spend your money on a great pair of trainers for a sport you love than to spend it on long-term healthcare for an injury you could probably have prevented.
3. Proper technique
When you first learnt how to drive, you probably had certain things drilled into you by your driving instructor. Maybe you were told to keep both hands on the wheel in a 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock position or to remember the sequence of mirror, signal, manoeuvre before you made a turn.
Odds are that you don’t always drive like that anymore. Your technique has probably slipped a bit as you’ve become more familiar with driving.
That can happen with your sports technique too. Technique means the basic movements of your sport. It’s very easy to slip into incorrect technique that can limit your performance and lead to injuries.
If you grip your racket too tight, you risk tendonitis. If you’re a bowler with poor posture, you may hurt your spine. If you jump but land with your knees out of alignment, they’ll give way at some point. If you overstride when you run and strike the ground with your heel rather than your midfoot, then you will probably develop some joint pain as time goes on.
There are plenty of online resources to help you learn correct technique for your chosen sport, whether that’s swimming, running, tennis or something else. A good coach can help too as can your physiotherapist.
4. Don’t play through pain
While we no longer recommend total rest for most injuries (some movement is usually good for your body), it’s not usually wise to play sport when you’re in pain.
Many sports injuries relate to overuse. You’ve performed that same movement (like a tennis serve) again and again and again. Your joints or soft tissues are clamouring for a breather and it’s time to listen.
Your physio can diagnose an overuse injury, advise you on how to manage it, and recommend cross-training strategies to keep you sporting fit while you rest that particular area of your body.
Once the affected area has recovered, your physio can then work with you to address factors that contributed to the injury (like incorrect technique, overtraining or biomechanical aspects) and create a tailored conditioning plan to strengthen your body.
Body conditioning aims to strengthen, shape and tone your body using flexibility, strength and resistance exercises.
Your physiotherapist can give you a program of exercises tailored to your needs. These are usually exercises you can do in your living room – things like squats, lunges, burpees or planks.
Done consistently, these exercises build up your body, reducing the likelihood of injury.
How The Brisbane Spine Clinic can help
Our capable sports physiotherapists can help you to hone your body, perfect your technique and reduce the risk of injury.
Please make an appointment today.
All information is general in nature. Patients should consider their own personal circumstances.