How to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

Regardless of what sport you play, athletes are at considerable risk for strains, sprains, and other soft-tissue injuries. The good news is that many sports injuries can be avoided by taking the right safety precautions and preventive measures. Below are some of the best ways to reduce your risk of suffering a sports-related injury.

Take Time Off

Your body needs time to recover, and overtraining increases the risk of serious injury. Always take at least one day off per week to rest and let your muscles repair themselves. Taking time off is especially important if you are coming back to the sport after a break or a previous injury–your body needs time to get back and acclimate to your previous routine and level of play, so take it slowly and avoid excessive intensity.

Stretch

Strains and sprains are by far the most common sports injury, but adequate stretching can dramatically reduce your odds of ending up on the sidelines. Dynamic stretching and gentle warm-ups help to increase blood flow to your muscles and boost flexibility, protecting your muscles, tendons, and ligaments from damage. Whether you are at the gym or on the field, a quick warm-up can make all the difference.

Use Proper Equipment

Sports equipment is specifically designed to offer maximal protection based on years of thorough research and testing, so always make sure that you are wearing the right gear before playing. Keep in mind that wearing sports equipment doesn’t mean you can’t still get injured so don’t use it an excuse to perform riskier activities. Avoid out dated or damaged equipment, and make sure that any equipment you use fits properly in order to avoid serious injuries.

Hit the Gym

If you are serious about playing sports, it is important to follow a fitness regimen that incorporates both strength and conditioning workouts. Stronger muscles make you less likely to suffer from injuries, and increased stamina lets you play longer without suffering from muscle fatigue, which puts your body’s natural protective mechanisms at risk. Just like with playing a sport, make sure to schedule some time off and stretch before working out.

Stay Hydrated

Even experienced athletes often underestimate their fluid intake, and failing to stay hydrated can result in heat exhaustion or heatstroke, a very serious condition that can sometimes even be fatal. Drink water before, during, and after a game or practice, and consider using sports drinks to replenish electrolytes if you are playing a long or intense game. Whenever possible, avoid extreme heat and humidity, and wear light, breathable clothing.

Don’t Ignore Pain

Pain is your body’s way of warning you that something isn’t right, and trying to “push through it” often results in serious–sometimes even permanent–damage. Be able to tell the difference between normal soreness or fatigue and serious pain or stiffness, and don’t be afraid to stop playing or training. Do not risk seriously injuring yourself. If you do experience pain, take a few days off, consult with a physician, and remember RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation.

Even the most experienced athletes are at risk of injury, and many people don’t realize how much difference preventive measures can make. While it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of sports-related injuries, the tips above can help you stay in the game by dramatically reducing your risk of harm.

From the Team at SFIOrthopaedics