If you’ve never had a sports injury before, you can count yourself lucky.
Most sportspeople will experience muscle strains, joint sprains, ligament damage, or dehydration due to physical activity or team sports. The good news is there are plenty of ways to avoid sports injuries with the right attention.
This article gives you eight things you should consider if you play active sports and want to avoid injuries. You will notice that the tips are simple and can be integrated into your sporting life right away.
Take a rest day
When you are really into a sport, you want to perform at the highest level, so you have to train. At first, you want to train as much as possible; after all, the more you train, the stronger and more flexible you can be and the better you will perform. To some extent, this is true – but you need a rest day.
Training too hard risks burn out resulting in injuries. Also, if your muscles don’t get a chance to recover, they don’t build the strength you need to perform at the highest level. So always factor one or two days of rest into your training schedule.
Wear the right gear
All sports require some special gear to improve performance and protect against injury. You might think some sports like running don’t have any special gear, but consider the type of shoes you wear – these can protect your knees from long-term injuries.
Other sports like football and hockey require much more protective gear. Helmets, pads, mouth guards. This gear is worn for a good reason; it protects players from serious injuries. So even if it costs a bit more or it’s a little inconvenient – research the gear that will protect you from injury.
Strengthen your muscles
Sometimes life gets in the way, and you lose the training momentum you once had; you forget that training is important for your performance and to prevent injury. Then, when you go back, you tear a muscle or a ligament because your body is not ready.
It isn’t only humans that experience muscle tears and ligament injuries. Your dog can get them too. If you’ve ever thrown a stick for your dog and it’s come back limping, it has probably suffered from a torn ACL. Like humans, a torn ACL in dogs is common and needs medical attention.
Increase your flexibility
As with muscle strengthening, flexibility is important for preventing injuries to your muscles and joints. Muscles that are too tight take longer to warm up and might tear on the sports field. Similarly, if you don’t have flexible muscles around the joints, it can influence your movement in the field.
To protect yourself from sports injuries and improve your performance, it’s a good idea to make stretching a part of your daily fitness routine. For example, take ten minutes to stretch before you work out or perform some yoga poses to maintain flexibility in your muscles.
Follow the rules
Rules sometimes seem arbitrary to us! It doesn’t seem necessary to take them seriously sometimes, and cutting corners might give us a small advantage. One example is not wearing protective gear to improve movement. Another is not taking a rest day to improve performance.
The fact is, performance and your body will suffer if you don’t follow the best practices of your sport. Coaches teach these rules and practices for a reason. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel or gain an unfair advantage. If anything, try to understand why the rules are in place, so they make sense to you.
Whether you are training hard in the gym or playing hard on the sports field, you need to remember to take breaks. There’s a reason why elite athletes are taken off the field by their coaches after 70 minutes. Even sportspeople who spend their lives training start to tire and need a break.
Understand your activity and your body, then decide what breaks you need to take. Obviously, you want to push yourself a little to gain that extra strength but stay sensible about it. If your body is telling you to rest, you need to listen to it.
High contact sports like football can be dangerous. That’s why there are so many rules in place to stop the game if there’s an injury. It’s also why there is so much protective gear in the sport. By wearing the gear, following the rules, and playing responsibly, you prevent injuries to yourself and others.
If you find yourself in a tussle or floored during a contact sport, don’t ignore any pain or injuries and force yourself to play on. You might have that desire, but it could worsen your injury and result in a chronic condition that prevents you from playing in the future.
When the heart rate increases, the body starts to warm up, and sweat falls from your forehead. As a result, your body starts to lose fluid and moves toward dehydration. If you don’t replace this lost fluid, it will start to affect your performance. For example, you might notice a fogginess in your brain, tiredness, and slower movements.
You can maintain your hydration during sports or workouts with water. Alternatively, you can use a sports drink that contains electrolytes. Electrolytes are salts that are a natural part of the body’s fluids. You lose these salts when you exert yourself, and the body can’t replace them fast enough. As a result, it leads to dehydration and fatigue.
Even highly trained athletes need to pay close attention to how they train and play sport to avoid injuries. Muscle tears, joint injuries, ligament damage, and dehydration can pose a serious threat to your body and performance. And one thing you don’t want is a chronic injury that keeps you out long term.
To avoid muscle strains and ligament damage in your active life, include plenty of warm-up activities throughout the week and before you play. Also, be sensible when playing your sport. Wear safety gear and follow the rules that are there for a reason. Cutting corners won’t pay off in the long run.