When it comes to sports and other physical activities, there is nothing more exhilarating than doing something that makes you feel good and look good at once! Whether you are a professional athlete, a weekend warrior, or a regular gym goer, you are most likely focused on improving your performance and physical fitness every time. This is where injury prevention comes in.
Injury prevention should be an important part of every physical activity, because it not only helps you achieve your training goals but also keeps you healthy and safe. Performing complex mathematics without adequate preparation can hurt your brain; running a marathon without adequate preparation can hurt your body.
What to Do to Prevent Injuries
Injuries occur when excessive stress is placed on the bones, muscles, and ligaments. To ensure that you can enjoy your favorite activity without risking your health in the process, always follow these injury prevention guidelines:
- Warm up to increase your blood flow and loosen up your body. Any gentle, rhythmic movements, such as deep breaths, are a good start.
- Perform careful stretches, holding each stretch for no more than 20 seconds. Avoid stretching to the point of pain or stretching already painful areas.
- Develop a balanced fitness program that provides a full body workout, including cardiovascular, strength and flexibility training.
- Use proper equipment and technique, yet do not rely on these elements to prevent all injuries.
- Perform a cool-down routine after every training session. It is complete once your skin is dry and your heart rate has slowed to its normal pace.
- Get plenty of rest, with a minimum of 1 day per week and 1 month per year for a complete recovery between training sessions.
- For weekend warriors, it is critical to keep the body warmed up and ready for strenuous activity. The best way to do that is to maintain regular fitness levels during the week. All it takes is 60 minutes per day, and not necessarily all at once!
- For individuals with pre-existing health conditions, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, it is important to speak with a doctor prior to engaging in any strenuous activity.
- One of the easiest ways to help prevent injury is to stretch. By warming up your muscles, you make them more flexible.
- Adequate fluid intake is important; preferably cool drinks should be taken before, during and after playing sport.
- Correct technique and appropriate training helps improve fitness. For children exercising, monitoring increases in activity to prevent the child from doing “too much, too soon” will help minimise injury
- Make certain that old injuries are adequately rehabilitated before continuing to participate in a sport.
- Protective equipment such as eyewear, wrist, elbows, knee braces and shin guards, helmets, tapes and braces all contribute to safety. Make sure shoes are appropriate for the sport. See Physio Support's range of Support and Braces here.
- “In one recent study of rugby players, mouthguards were the most common protective equipment item worn, (55% by players in schoolgirl’s grade to 73% in Senior A competition). The next most common item was taping of body joints such as the ankle, knee, and hand.”1
Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist contact your healthcare practitioner
1 Marshall SW, Waller AE, Loomis DP, et al. Use of protective equipment in a cohort of rugby players. Med Sci Sports Exerc, 33(12):2131-8, 2001.