There’s nothing more exciting than stepping onto the field or court for a big game! Whether you are in the playoffs or enjoying a fun recreational scrimmage, protecting your health and performance is essential.
Both professional athletes and weekend warriors are prone to sports injuries. When you are engaging in activities that put pressure on the joints, muscles, and bones, then it can take a toll over time.
No matter which sports you are playing, be smart about protecting yourself to prevent injuries. Here are a few general rules every athlete should follow to minimize the risk of an accident in the game:
Be in Good Physical Condition
The highest rates of injury occur in “weekend warriors” – people who play sports occasionally but don’t adequately train for the activities. While the sport can contribute to your fitness, don’t count on the game to get you in shape.
When you want to enjoy a pickup game, then make sure you are conditioning your body between these social activities. Regular strength training, stretching, and cardio can optimize your physical function and give you the strength you need.
Don’t Skip the Warmup
A little bit of stretching and light physical activity is a great way to warm up the muscles and prepare you for full participation in the game. Choose a warmup to match your sport. For example, runners often spend time stretching their legs and walking before heading to the starting line.
It’s better to start slowly instead of jumping into the game with full effort. In addition to warming up the body, consider methods to warm up your mind as well. Mental rehearsal has an undeniable impact on performance.
A proper warmup is especially important for athletes with previous injuries. Be proactive in stretching these parts of the body during your warmup.
Wear Protective Gear
Know your sport and choose the right protective gear. Investing in good equipment is a minimal cost compared to the amount of money you will spend on surgery and treatments if an injury occurs. Protective gear varies depending on the sport you are choosing:
- Protective pads
Not only do you need gear, but it’s essential to make sure the equipment fits well. When you have quality protective gear and the right fit, you can save your teeth, eyes, hands, knees, and head from serious injury.
Rest and Recovery
The risk of injury goes up if you are over-extending yourself with too many days of training. It’s easy to assume that more exercise will result in better performance. But the quality should always be prioritized over quantity to optimize the results of your training.
Rest is just as important as the time you put in for conditioning. Be proactive about building in rest days so you can avoid injuries that occur from fatigue, overuse, or poor judgment.
Improve Your Technique
Always use the correct form and technique to protect your body while playing. A coach can offer personalized recommendations for posture and technique. It’s worth the cost to invest in training.
Don’t Underestimate Flexibility
When the muscles are too tight, then the risk of injury goes up. There’s a reason why some of the most successful athletes include low-impact sports in their training routines.
One or two yoga classes a week can be valuable in helping to loosen things up before your game. Also, be proactive about dedicating 10 or 15 minutes for stretching before and after every workout.
In Pain? Don’t Play.
Pain is the body’s way of sending a signal that something is wrong. Listen to these cues to determine when you should take a break or talk to an orthopedic doctor.
It might seem like the toughest players push through the pain. But intelligent athletes are intuitive about their participation. So when pain is present, or you are too tired, then a break might be the optimal solution to help you be at the top of your game in the future.
Hidden health issues can surface if you suffer from heat exhaustion, dehydration, or heat stroke. When the body is exerting physical activity, there is more need for water and electrolytes.
Drink more water when you are physically active. Also, consider other factors that might increase your need for water, such as excessive sweating or sports activities in the sun.
Rehabilitation When Needed
When an injury occurs, be careful to dedicate the time necessary for adequate rehabilitation. Even seemingly minor injuries can lead to more significant health issues in the future. Rehabilitation gets you back in the game as quickly as possible.
Rest is a standard recommendation for rehabilitation. You might also need physical therapy, anti-medication, or other treatments to address your injury and inflammation. Talk to a sports medicine doctor for personalized recommendations.
Risk Factors that Contribute to Sports Injuries
Be aware of potential risk factors that increase the likelihood of sports injuries. When you watch for these factors, you can make minor adjustments in your personal game to avoid injury.
Common risk factors include:
- History of Injury: If you’ve already injured a certain part of the body, then there’s a higher likelihood of another injury again in the future. Previous injuries often turn into chronic issues.
- Consecutive Training Days: The more days you train consecutively, the higher risk of injury. Don’t overextend yourself by skipping recovery days.
- Age: There’s no question that the human body changes over time. As a person gets older, the bones become more brittle, and the muscles weaken – increasing the risk of injury.
Talk to a Sports Medicine Doctor
Whether you play sports for fitness or competition, don’t let yourself get sidelined with an injury. These tips not only keep you in excellent health, but a proactive approach ensures you can always maintain top performance.
We are here to assist so you can maintain the ideal performance in your game. For more information about quality sports medicine services, contact us at Orthopedic Associates. Call today to book a consultation with an industry expert.