Top 8 Tips for Preventing Sports Injuries

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A Brief History

During the 2007 Dubai Tennis Championship, Jelena Janković (born 1985) retired from an ankle injury during the match against Amélie Mauresmo (born 1979).  We all know how important it is to be active and include regular exercise into our schedules, but it is also essential that we know our stuff when it comes to training and engaging in a sport so that we know how to prevent any injuries from occurring. Sports injuries are very common, and they can occur when you engage in any type of sporting activity, from dancing to running, and if you regularly enjoy engaging in sports then getting an injury can be both painful and very frustrating. It is important that you are aware of the potential injuries that you could suffer and are conscious of doing everything you can to avoid them. To make this a bit easier for you, we have put together these top eight tips of things you can do to prevent any sports injuries so that you can continue to take part in the sports that you love.

Digging Deeper

Always Warm-Up

Players of Legends Football League do a warming up exercise, USA.  Photograph by hot choco studio.

No matter what sort of sporting activity you are about to engage in, it is essential that you warm your body up beforehand. This is so important because you need to prepare both your body and mind for an exercise session. To do this, you need to gradually increase your heart rate so that your body is prepared for what is about to come. The whole point of doing exercise is to get your heart rate on the increase, so you should prepare your heart for this. Warming up also involves warming up your muscles and the connective tissues in your body, as these are the parts of your body that you will be using the most when you take part in sports. By warming up effectively, you can improve your mobility through sports activity, as well as improving the overall mobility of your body as a whole.

Stretch it Out

A woman doing static stretching.  Photograph by Dhdnzk.

One of the best ways to prevent a sports injury from occurring is by developing your flexibility through stretching before you engage in an activity. This is important because having poor flexibility is one of the main causes of tendon and muscle strains, which can be very painful and can prevent you from engaging in sports in the future. You need your muscles to be stretched and relaxed when you exercise so that you can reduce your risk of injury. You should stretch after your cool down once you have finished your main activity. Be sure to focus on the muscles that you have moved the most, for example, do leg stretches if you have been running.

Use the Right Equipment

A custom made Rolin baseball glove.  Photograph by Wyk.

It is important that you use the correct equipment when engaging in exercise so that you can avoid any preventable injuries from occurring. If your sport involves using equipment, then ensure that you are using up to date and properly sized sports gear. For example, if you enjoy playing baseball, then ensure that your glove fits correctly to prevent any injuries to your hand.

Since injuries are a real problem for older fitness enthusiasts, by investing in systems for medical alerts, if you have seriously injured yourself, then at the push of a button you can get help on their way to you immediately. This is especially effective equipment if your elderly parents like to exercise at home alone.

Work on Your Technique

Larry Fitzgerald (in blue) catches a pass while Cortland Finnegan (in red) plays defense at the 2009 Pro Bowl.  Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michael A. Lantron, USN.

All sports require technique and it is important that you practice how to correctly play your sport of choice. An incorrect technique is a common cause of sports injury and can stop you from playing your favorite sport long term. It is important not to expect yourself to have a perfect technique straight away and spend some time practicing. You may want to join a sports team or visit a sports coach so that you can learn the right technique from a professional. Do not worry about not getting it at first; nobody is born a professional!

Wear the Correct Sports Clothing

U.S. Navy’s male sailors exercising in the presence of a female fitness instructor, 2010. All of them are wearing sportswear appropriate for doing exercise.  U.S. Navy photography by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew Bookwalter.

Just like it is important that you use the correct equipment for your chosen sport, it is also crucial that you wear the correct sports clothing. With the developments in modern technology, you can now get clothing that helps to prevent sports injuries. You can get footwear that is specially made for an individual sport or activity so that your feet are protected from the individual demands of the sport you are engaging in.

Have Regular Rests

The bronze Boxer at Rest is a Hellenistic Greek sculpture of a sitting nude boxer at rest, still wearing his caestus, a type of leather hand-wrap.  Photograph by Livioandronico2013.

While exercising regularly is essential for our overall health, it is important that you take regular rests from sports activities so that your body can recuperate. Rest is just as important as exercise and failing to have enough rest can increase your chances of suffering a sports injury. Sports activities can be demanding on your body so be sure to listen to your body and if it needs a rest, give it one. Your weekly schedule should include at least one rest day a week, if not more depending on your overall fitness; however, rest does not mean taking part in a different sport or activity instead; you need to give your body a well-deserved break.

Stay Hydrated

An association football/soccer water boy carrying two six-packs of water bottles to refresh the players.  Photograph by MrPoitas.

It is important that you drink plenty of water and stay hydrated both before, after, and during your participation in sports activities. If not, you may become dehydrated, which can blur your senses and increase your risk of injury. Hydration is essential every time that you take part in exercise, so you may consider investing in a reusable water bottle to always have with you. If it is a particularly warm and humid day then you should be sure to up your water intake. Be very aware of your hydration if you’re a senior.

Always Cool Down

Australian Paralympian cyclist Paul Lake uses an ice vest to cool off at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta.  Photograph by John Sherwell.

A cool-down is just as important as a warmup, as you need to ensure that you bring your heart rate and blood pressure back down to normal safely.  Low-intensity exercise, such as jogging for 10 minutes, is a great way to cool your body down after sports.  You can also use either ice vests, cooling products, or manually cool down the body through gentle light intensity exercise to cool down the body during half time or breaks in an activity or sport.

By following these tips and advice you can decrease your risk of sports injuries, ensuring that you can continue to take part in your favorite activities.

Question for students (and subscribers): Have you ever suffered any sports related injuries?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Cantu, Robert C. and Frederick O. Mueller.  Football Fatalities and Catastrophic Injuries 1931-2016.  Carolina Academic Pr, 2019.

Geier, David.  That’s Gotta Hurt: The Injuries That Changed Sports Forever.  ForeEdge, 2017.

The featured image in this article, a photograph of a fallen Jelena at the 2007 Dubai Tennis Championship, while Mauresmo and the chair umpire rush to Jelena to check her condition, has been released into the public domain worldwide by its author, G patkar at English Wikipedia.

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Abdul Alhazred

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad." "How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland