Sports are life for some people – there is just something uniquely impressive about the way dedication, talent, and practice come together to create sporting magic. The downside to most sports is that through overuse and trauma, the resulting injuries can keep an athlete on the bench for months at a time. Some traumatic sports injuries are as avoidable as they are dramatic; you simply need to know what you are doing.
Throwing yourself into the sport of your choice doesn’t need to be taken quite so literally, and even when it comes to high-contact sports, there are always ways you can keep injuries down to a minimum. As everyone knows, prevention is far better than cure. So, to prevent the most common sports injuries, follow the advice below:
1. Warm Up
The most important aspect of preventing avoidable injuries is warming up. Warming up helps increase your heart rate and body temperature, thereby warming up your muscles and making them more flexible and less susceptible to damage. The resulting increased blood flow activates and primes nerves and muscles, making movement easier and more efficient. Cooling down is also vital, especially for competitive athletes. It allows your heart and blood pressure to gradually recover to normal levels.
2. Listen To Your Body
When your body is showing signs of stress or tension, listen to it. Mild aches and pains at the time can be a sign of your muscles working, but joint or bone pain is a sign that you need to pump the brakes. You’ll soon learn to differentiate between workable pain and damaging pain. Don’t push your body past its limits – that is one of the most common ways for athletes to get benched for the rest of the season.
3. Heal Properly
If you push yourself too far by accident, you must take the appropriate time to rest and recover. Listen to the advice of a trained medical professional who specializes in sports-related injuries, such as K. Mathew Warnock, MD – never take a sports injury lightly. If you don’t take your recovery seriously, you could lose more than just your spot on the team! Always check with your doctor to ensure you are clear to resume your sporting activities. Pain is your body’s way of saying enough is enough, so take it seriously.
4. Wear The Right Gear
For most sports, especially contact ones, wearing the correct protective gear should be non-negotiable. Items like helmets, mouth guards, and protective pads or cups, are designed to protect your body when and where it is most vulnerable. Always wear the proper gear and ensure that it fits properly – protective gear that is too tight or loose can have the opposite effect. Deciding what clothes to wear during your workout can be tricky, instead of choosing trendy outfits, focus on choosing outfits that are comfortable and made from breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics.
5. Stay Hydrated
Hydration is an essential component of human life, which makes it all the more important for people who regularly push their bodies to the limit in the name of sports. Athletes should drink around 20 ounces of water 2 hours before training, 10 ounces during training, and 24 ounces for every pound of body weight after training. Water aids in cell repair and flushes toxins out of your system, helping your body stay strong and healthy. Drinking water is one of the best ways to prevent dehydration and heat stroke, but milk is also quenching and can be impressively nutritious – provided you’re not lactose intolerant!
6. Develop A Fitness Plan
Exercise is essential for a healthy body and mind, but without a proper fitness plan, your routine could be all over the place. Focus on developing a fitness plan that suits your body and how you would like to see it perform. The perfect fitness plan contains exercises that develop cardiovascular performance, strength training, as well as flexibility and agility techniques. Your fitness plan should consider your fitness goals, lifestyle habits, and schedule. Build activity into your daily routine by walking at lunchtime, or consistently choosing to take the stairs.
7. Alternate Exercises
Overtraining is one of the worst things you can do during exercise or training sessions. Working out different parts of your body on alternating days allows your muscles the crucial time they need to rest and recover between workouts. There are three types of muscles: smooth, cardiac, and skeletal. Smooth muscles control involuntary functions like blood flow, cardiac muscles control the heart, and skeletal muscles are the ones that help you move. Fitness experts focus on training six major muscle groups: back, arms, abdominals, shoulders, legs, and chest. There are endless combinations of exercise routines, but everyone is different, so try out a few of them first – before deciding which ones work the best for your body and mindset.
8. Core Strength
Having a strong core is essential to improving your balance and stability, which is a logical requirement for safer performance. The stronger your balance is and the more stable you are, the less likely you will be to fall or injure yourself. Planking is one of the best exercises that will help to strengthen your core. If planking isn’t your thing, try good old-fashioned abdominal crunches – they have rightfully earned their place in the exercise hall of fame.
Staying safe and looking after your body both on and off of the field is essential to having a long and prosperous sporting career – even if you’re not a professional sportsperson. Your passion and dedication for the sport needs to extend keeping your body out of harm’s way as well. If nonoperative measures aren’t working, consult your healthcare provider because surgery may be the only other option to getting back up on your feet. There are minimally invasive procedures available for many sports injuries, so don’t let the thought of a big operation scare you.
Don’t push your body when you’re tired or ill, rest is crucial to living a well-balanced life. If you do get injured, treat that injury as quickly as possible – that is the number one rule.