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How To Prevent A Sports Injury

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Authored by David Di Cristo in Exercise
Published on 12-23-2008

A game of pickup soccer on a sunny afternoon feels great until you hear that awful popping sound and feel a stabbing pain in your ankle. The bad news when it comes to sports is that injuries happen; the good news is that many injuries can be prevented.

Torn muscles and ligaments top the list of common sports injuries. The problem is that most people don’t warm up properly to get an adequate supply of oxygen to their muscles before exercising. The younger you are the more you can get away with – but the older you get, things start to happen.

Knee pain is number one on the sports injury list. Sudden twisting can tear cruciate ligaments or the meniscus, a protective cartilage. But some knee pain is simply caused by overuse.

When the patella gets too much stress, its tendon gets inflamed and sore. Treatment includes icing to reduce swelling, followed by exercises that strengthen the quadriceps muscle.

Shoulder pain after skiing or racket sports is often caused by a torn rotator cuff. Falling is usually the culprit in skiing. But with tennis, just the impact of a vigorous swing can tear untrained tendons and muscles.

Swinging – whether it’s with a racket, bat or golf club – is often behind another common complaint; back pain. The best bet for preventing back pain, is to strengthen your abdominal muscles.

Want to stay in the game? Then keep these things in mind:

  1. Warm up and stretch. Experts advise warming up your muscles – jogging in place, doing jumping jacks, walking, slowly rotating joints – for at least 10 minutes before engaging in vigorous exercise. Gentle stretching after warm-ups and workouts will also help prevent injuries.
  2. Exercise regularly. Despite the demands of family and work, it’s important to exercise every other day or at least every third day. The key to avoiding injury is letting your body get accustomed to exercise with gradual increases of intensity.
  3. Exercise safely. Work with a personal trainer. The cost of consulting a certified, professional trainer for sport-specific exercise advice may seem high, but it’s far less than the price tag for rehabilitation after an injury.
  4. Cross train. Repetitive overuse of the same muscles and ligaments causes injury. If you play softball or basketball in a weekend league, then go to the pool or gym during the week.

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