Avoiding Sports Injuries

Avoiding Sports Injuries – Depending on your age, and basic level of health, you should be able to enjoy exercise and sports to a fun and rewarding degree. The benefits of exercise are well documented: improved cardiovascular health leads to a greater sense of psychological well-being and reduces the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. However, regular exercise does carry the risk of injury, so take steps to reduce the chances of suffering one in the first place, and familiarize yourself with first lid in case injury strikes you or your teammates.

Assessing your fitness and tailoring your exercise

You should always visit a health practitioner for a medical check-up to assess how fit you are before you begin playing i new sport. Starting from a low level of fitness, being overweight for your height, or having a pre-existing medical rendition or injury all increase the likelihood of you injuring yourself. Get in shape before starting a new sport and talk o a professional about the appropriate intensity duration, and frequency of activity for your level of fitness.

To maximize your performance, formulate a training regimen suited to the demands of your chosen sport.

Each sport calls for certain fitness requirements – for example, long-distance running requires stamina and endurance, while weightlifting necessitates a high level of muscle strength – so different physiques and attributes may be suited to different sports. Seek professional advice on the best activities for your sport, such as strength training, plyometric exercises, and circuit training, and learn the correct technique for each exercise. Build up your strength and stamina gradually.

Resting and fueling your body

Allowing time for rest and recovery in your training program is just as important as the exercise itself. Any type of strenuous activity places physical stress upon the body, leading to minor tissue damage. When sufficient time is allowed for your body’s natural repair processes to take place, these stresses actually stimulate the body to adapt and recover, resulting in increased fitness. However, training too often prevents your body from recovering sufficiently, impairing your fitness and increasing the likelihood of injury. Avoid exercise altogether if you are already injured, or unwell or tired – or you may in fact delay your recovery.

The final element of an effective exercise regimen is diet and nutrition, which should be tailored to the requirements of your training program. Glycogen is the fuel that your body burns during exercise, so you should eat food rich in complex carbohydrates, such as wholemeal bread and pasta, in the hours prior to exercise. Small quantities of food rich in simple carbohydrates, such as nuts, dried fruit, and energy bars, are ideal for providing fast-release energy during exercise, while a recovery meal consisting of protein and carbohydrates should be eaten within two hours of finishing exercise. Hydration is equally important: drink enough water during exercise to prevent you from becoming thirsty, and continue your intake of fluids after exercise by drinking water or a specially formulated recovery drink.

Preparing your body for exercise

Warming up is an essential aspect of exercise that not only prepares your body for energetic activity and reduces the risk of injury, but also improves your potential performance and maximizes the health benefits of your chosen sport. The purpose of warming up is to ease both your mind and body from a state of rest into a state of strenuous activity. A warm-up routine consisting of gentle loosening exercises, dynamic stretching, and sport-specific exercises will increase your core and muscle temperature, which helps to make your muscles loose, supple, and pliable. You will also increase your heart and respiratory rate, boosting blood flow and the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, which helps to prepare your muscles, tendons, and joints for action. Your cooling-down period involves gentle stretches and activity that helps to dissipate lactic acid build-up in your muscles, return your heart rate to a resting pace, and prevent light-headedness, cramps, and shortness of breath.

When injury strikes

Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Sharp pain is likely to accompany an acute injury, while dull, nagging pain is usually a sign of the onset of a chronic injury. In either case you need to identify the injury and determine what treatment is necessary.

Soft tissue injuries – including damage to muscles, tendons, joints, and ligaments – are accompanied by swelling due to internal bleeding from ruptured blood vessels in the affected area, so immediate stabilization of the injury, such as the RICE procedure is essential for stemming the bleeding and reducing the swelling.

R- Rest the injured part

I- Cool the injury with an ICE pack or a cold pack (aim for 20-25 minutes every 2 hours for at least the first 3 days)

C- Apply Compression to the injury

E- Elevate the injured part

For acute injuries, especially those involving collisions or head injuries, first aid or medical attention may be necessary.

Choosing the Right Gear

Ill-fitting or unsuitable equipment increases the chances of injury. Consider the following tips when buying your gear:

Footwear should be suited to your chosen sport and must provide sufficient support and cushioning for your feet and ankles. Seek specialist advice regarding footwear that is specific to your sport, and always try before you buy.

Clothing should be constructed from a material suited to the purpose, such as breathable fabric for warm-weather sports or insulated fabric for cold- and wet-weather sports.

Sport-specific equipment, such as rackets, skis, and bicycles, should be custom-fitted to your body’s dimensions and weight, and suited to your level of ability.

Warm-Up

A good warm-up prepares your body for exercise and reduces the risk of injury. Including a sport-specific activity in your warm-up can help you familiarize your body with the movements and techniques of your chosen sport. Every warm-up should include the following routines:

Cardio work, such as skipping, jogging, running, or working on a cross-trainer, will increase your heart rate and blood flow and warm up your muscles. You should begin your warm-up with up to 10 minutes of cardio work.

Gentle loosening exercises help to loosen up your body if you have been in a sedentary state, and may include rotations of the ankles, hips, wrists, and shoulders, and gentle jogging on the spot. The duration and intensity of the exercises depends on your level of fitness, but should last between 5 and 10 minutes, and produce a light sweat.

Dynamic stretching contributes to muscular conditioning as well as flexibility. It is best suited to high-level athletes and should only be performed once your body has reached a high degree of flexibility.

Sport-specific exercises consist of activities and exercises related to your chosen sport, and should be performed at a more vigorous level of exertion than the first stages of your warm-up routine.

Cool-Down

Cooling down after exercise is equally as important as warming up. Cooling down restores your body to a pre-exercise state in a controlled manner, helps your body repair itself, and can lessen muscle soreness the following day. You should never skip your cool-down altogether. Your cool-down should consist of the following components:

Gentle jogging or walking allows your heart rate to slow down and recover its resting rate, decreases your body temperature, and aids in the removal of waste products (such as lactic acid) from your muscles. You should spend between 5 and 10 minutes jogging or walking.

Static stretching helps to relax your muscles and tendons and allows them to reestablish their normal range of movement. Perform only one or two stretches per muscle group, and hold each position for 20-30 seconds. Take care not to over-s as this may inadvertently injure the muscle.