Preventing Sports Injuries

The best way to avoid Sports Injuries is to avoid getting hurt and managing the risk factors that make you more likely to suffer injuries.

If you want to continue to enjoy the sports they play and reduce their risk of injury, and for those who want to avoid aggravating old injuries, then consider and apply the following:

    • Avoid Injury: You can avoid injury by playing sports that have the lower levels of contact and lower chance of causing injuries. Or, if you simply must play the sport because you enjoy it so much, then perhaps you can play it in less serious forms. For example, if you play full contact football, and this has caused you a number of injuries, then perhaps you could play less serious versions of the game, such as social football, mixed-sex football, and so on.

    • Know Your Limits: is very important for avoiding injuries as well as preventing slight injuries from becoming more serious. If you have previously injured part of your body, and that begins to hurt again in the future, then stop immediately and rest. If pain or symptoms persist, then seek medical advice.

    • Look After Yourself and Apply Common Sense:

    o Be in proper physical condition to play the sport. Be realistic. If you haven’t done any exercise for 10 years, or are 40 pounds overweight, then you simply are not ready to begin playing high speed contact sports.

    o Don’t be a “weekend warrior”, in other words if you only exercise once or twice per week, then don’t try and squeeze a week’s worth of exercise into these sessions. Exercise sensibly. In the 1970’s, Squash became known as the “Widow Maker” because so many men were dying on the court from heart attack they were pushing themselves way too hard once or twice a week without building up their fitness levels or doing additional exercise in between playing squash.

    o Don’t overdo it.

    o Don’t play when you are very tired or in pain.

    o Follow the rules of the game and play in the spirit of the game they are there to protect players.

    o Get a physical exam before you start playing sport, to make sure there are no lurking health or body defects.

    o If you are jumping around, land with your knees bent.

    o If you have a prior knee injury, then don’t bend your knees more than half way when doing knee bends and don’t twist your knees when you stretch.

    o Know how to use your athletic and protective gear.

    o Learn to do your sport right learn the proper techniques, get the proper protective gear, and stay within your limits.

    o Run on flat surfaces and use the softest exercise surface you can find. In particular, do not run on asphalt or concrete.

    o Wear proper shoes for your sports that are stable, fit properly, and absorb shock.

    • Lose Weight: if you are overweight and doing exercises or activities that are placing enormous strain on your muscles, bones, or joints, then you should consider stopping this activity for a while, and concentrate on losing weight by using gentler exercises (walking, jogging, weight training, etc) and when you reach your proper weight, return to your prior sport.

    • Play It Safe: learn from your experience and your prior injuries and do the things that can help you avoid getting hurt again.

    • Protective Devices: Wearing the proper protective gear for your sport can greatly reduce the chance of suffering further injuries. For example, helmets, shoulder pads, mouth guards, knee pads, elbow pads, gloves, proper shoes, and so on could be worn for potentially dangerous, high speed, high impact activities, such as contact sports, like football and ice hockey, and skateboarding, cycling, snow skiing, and so on to help protect yourself from injury.

In addition:

o Males should wear an athletic supporter or a sports cup to protect the genitals from serious injury.

o Females should wear supportive sports bras while playing sports or exercising.

Support Devices

These are essential if you play or return to playing a sport that may not be ideally suited to you. For example, Support Devices are essential if you have any body defects, joint laxity issues, lack flexibility, or have any muscle weakness or imbalance issues. (See section 4 Causes and Risk Factors for Sports Injuries). Support Devices include:

    o Specialised Protective Gear: may be useful for protecting and supporting specific areas of the body that need the additional protection and support.

    o Modified Equipment: for example modified shoes with special inserts or arch supports can help support your feet.

    o Taping and Strapping: can be used to provide extra support and protection to many areas of the body, such as the knees, elbows, shoulders, and fingers, and reduce the risk of strains, and aggravating prior injuries.

    o Braces: on the knee and elbow braces for example can help provide extra support and protection, also reducing the risks of strains, and aggravating prior injuries.

Take It Slow

If you are returning to the game after being injured, then it is especially important that you take it slow and gradually build up (over several weeks) to your pre-injury levels of activity and motion.

Warm Up and Down Properly: Many of the body’s tissues, such as muscle, are better able to deal with stress, strain, and load when they are warm. The warm-up process should exercise the entire body, to increase flow to muscles and makes them more responsive, and also include stretching exercises that move joints and limbs through their full range of motion.

A proper warm-up regime ensures that muscles, joints, and body tissues are as prepared as possible to deal with the stresses and strains of exercise. At the end of each training session, it is also essential to warm down, bringing the body back down to normal, usually through low intensity activity, such as walking and gentle flexibility exercises. If you are returning to the game after being injured, then it is especially important that you warm up and down properly.