What Can I Do To Prevent Sports Injuries?
Each year, recreation and sports injuries surpass 8.6 million incidences annually according to a study by the US Department of Health and Human Services. With more than 460,000 NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) student-athletes taking part in sports each academic year and a growing percentage of Americans taking up the mantle in sports and physical activity across the country, the likelihood of sustaining an injury in the process is a very real reality for many. However, sports injuries are completely preventable by taking the right prevention steps. These can range from wearing the right muscle recovery and protection gear to eating a healthy diet and staying hydrated.
Make Warm-Ups Apart Of Your Routine
By doing a warm-up before any physical activity such as engaging in a sport, you are preparing your muscles for the strenuous movements that occur during the activity and the effect that it can have on your body and your muscles. During a warm-up, your blood rate increases and the blood flow to your muscles increases. The increased blood circulation helps to loosen your joints and reduces the chances of muscle tears or rips. There are also mental benefits of warming up- your brain becomes more focused on the activity ahead and according to a report by the Tri-City Medical Center, can improve your technique and coordination skills.
Most warm-up sessions should last for at least 10 minutes. The National Sports Medicine Institute recommends a warm-up timeframe of 20 -30 minutes and that it includes aerobic or cardiovascular exercises such as jogging followed by exercises. You can also include bodyweight training using timber made still rings in your warm-up to improve your joint health in weak places such as your shoulders. You can also use the warm-up period to practice sport-specific skills or exercises tailored to the sport you play. For instance, baseball players tend to include arm swings, throwing and fielding in their general warm-up sessions.
Wear The Right Protective Gear
It is not enough to grab any gear; your sports gear must be the right equipment that serves its purpose of protecting you from injury. To do this, it must be well fitted, in good condition and suitable for the sport. For example, runners will want to regularly check their running shoes for signs of wear and tear and sizing. Wearing worn-out shoes or wrongly suited socks can not only provide poor support but also places you at an increased risk of slipping. When it comes to accessories like socks, you want to look for great arch support, breathable material and a reinforced heel and toe for an added cushion against foot injuries. Similarly, baseball and softball players will want to check the grip and mobility of their batting gloves. Quality batting gloves with textured leather and good ventilation which enhances your grip and reduces sweat - a key part in maintaining a good grip during training or a game. Shop all batting gloves, here. For sports that require helmets such as cricket or baseball, check the sizing of the helmet to ensure optimal visibility.
Finally, be sure to regularly review the fit and condition of your other gear including your supportive gear. These include kneepads, braces or compression arm sleeves. Compression arm sleeves not only encourages blood circulation but also to speed up muscle recovery and protects your skin from sunburn, another commonly reported sports injury. They are also great for protecting you from scrapes or turf burn. Shop 50+ Compression Arm Sleeves, here.
Improve Your Flexibility With Stretching Exercises
Another way you can prevent sports injuries is to include stretching exercises in your warm-up routine. Stretching exercises can improve your flexibility and can also help with muscle or strength conditioning. After light cardiovascular exercise, repeat 3 to 6 rounds of stretching exercises such as forward and side lunges, side seat straddles and stretches along with knees to chest. Don’t forget to follow this routine after your activity as well. Cooling down helps to decrease soreness.
Drink Enough Water
Lastly, remember to keep your hydration levels up. Whether you are a younger athlete or a more experienced pro, dehydration can increase the risk of muscle fatigue, heat exhaustion and the chances of your muscles tensing up. This is because as you engage in physical activity such as sports, your body loses water. Pay attention to signs of your body becoming dehydrated and aim to regularly drink enough water. Recommendations from the Institute Of Medicine says women should aim for 2.7 liters of water each day when men should drink at least 3.7 liters of water daily. Make it a habit to carry around a shaker cup with you to all training or sporting activities so you can keep your hydration levels up.
As an athlete, a sports injury is the most dreaded scenario. The good news is, each of these prevention tips is simple and easy to include in your everyday routine whether it is during games or on training days. However, despite being simple they all have immeasurable benefits in keeping you and your body healthy when playing sports.
- Lucy Peterson