• Dr. Mark Freund

A Guide to Sports Injury Prevention


sports injury prevention guide

Sport is a great way to exercise, but all these activities can put you at risk of injury. Even If you are careful, the likelihood of a sprained ankle or even a broken bone is always there, more so when you engage in sporting activities. Having said that, that doesn't mean you have to stop exercising, as it is equally important to build strength if you want to avoid injuries. The good news is that many sports injuries are preventable with the right exercise and training. Whether you are an athlete, healthcare provider, coach, or parent, we have tips to prevent sports injuries to ensure that safety is your top priority.


Sports Injury Prevention Tips

The best way to avoid an injury is to be physically and mentally prepared for the sport. The better advice, if possible, is to prevent an injury than to recover from one. The first step is to learn how to avoid sports injuries and follow basic advice given by healthcare professionals. You should also be aware of the aftermath of an injury, things you can do, and measures to take. Avoid the weekend warrior syndrome to avoid injuries from overuse. You should strike a balance between training and adequate rest periods.

Here are some tips to help you get started:


Strength Training & Stretching

stretching exercises for sports injury prevention

Warm-up and stretch properly. Strength training and stretching are integral parts of injury prevention. Therefore, it is vital that you invest your time in building up your strength by stretching regularly. Engaging in warm-up exercises before playing is an essential part in sports injury prevention.

Coaches should have their players prepare for warm-up exercises as well as cool-down exercises. Warm-up slowly during activities and use the right body mechanics for sports that require repeated stress, such as basketball or football, which require fast, dynamic movements.

Wear the Right Equipment

One of the easiest and most effective methods to prevent injuries from most sports is to wear and use the right equipment to protect your body. When you're at a game, protective garments help prevent new injuries and prevent existing injuries from getting worse. Wear and use the right equipment for your sport, and observe proper nutrition, and proper rest periods.


Cross-Training

Cross-training allows certain muscles to rest. This training can relieve boredom in routine, as well as help with recovery after a hard workout. Cross-training and playing a variety of sports is a great way to minimize the risk of injury from overuse. Building strength, flexibility, and stamina, no matter which sport you practice, helps reduce the risk of injury.

prevent sports injury with cross training

Do at least three or four different sports a year, such as football, baseball, tennis, or golf. Safe training methods should also be promoted so that younger athletes suffer fewer injuries during the season. If you are not sure how to train best, work with a certified trainer or instructor. Use targeted training to prepare for your sport.


Do It Right

In sports, proper bending of the knees can help avoid major injuries to the spine and hip. Different types of exercise require different stances, so make sure you have the right posture during your exercise. Learn to move "right" during sports activities, such as the correct position of hips, knees, ankles, and hands.


Allow Sufficient Healing Time

Patients should allow sufficient time to heal the injury to ensure that it does not become recurrent or chronic. Taking ample time to rest and heal with the right measures to gradually return to your sporting activities will help to reduce the risk of further injuries and avoid long-term negative effects.

physcial therapist examining knee injury

If you return after your body recovers, you may need to withdraw for a few days before you jump back in with the same intensity. Remember to cool down after each activity and retreat to a warm-up phase of at least 30 minutes. Normally this involves all the same stretching exercises associated with warming up, but with a little more rest.

How long should you wait until you can play sports again after an injury, and what can hinder or support the healing process?

Ultimately, the healing time varies from person to person. Also, with time and age, your body tends to react differently. However, athletes tend to have a better blood supply and heal faster than non-athletes due to their higher blood pressure and oxygen content. Their healing depends on a good blood supply that carries nutrients, oxygen, and infections - the cells fight and repair the damaged area.

stretch exercises and physical therapy

Research suggests that even a few days worth of recovery from a sports injury can both hinder and support the healing process. Excessive rest can delay healing, so don't let an injury keep you from doing it for too long, or it may cause further damage to your body.


If you are in pain after the break, you should never exercise the injured part, but start with simple movements and exercises when it is no longer painful at rest. If you get active again too early, the healing time of your injury will be longer, and the pain will be more intense. Optimal exercise also helps with blood supply and swelling. Your bones, tendons, ligaments, and muscles need some effort to stimulate healing, and the optimal load is to improve range of motion and strength. You don't necessarily want to be completely motionless, so you can activate your body’s ability to heal naturally.


Progressive Exercises

You should increase your training intensity as you get better, but only if you can do it painlessly. Otherwise, only do it at a very low intensity and progress slowly. After some time, you can build it up to the next level and return to the lowest activity intensity to allow active recovery. If you feel pain, stop and rest for at least a few minutes until it is no longer painful, and then rest as long as possible. Pain and tension must be acknowledged. Otherwise, a minor injury may turn into a major one.


Seek Immediate Treatment

Pain is a warning sign of injury, don't ignore it. Refrain from training when you are in pain and stop all activities until it has subsided. Reduce the risk of an injury by using the right technique and by treating injuries immediately if possible. Drawing immediate attention to a minor sports injury will help reduce the swelling, which will potentially stop any further injury from occurring. Consult a doctor immediately to avoid the risk of developing chronic pain or long-term injuries so you can return to your normal routine once you have assessed and treated your injury.

treating sports injuries with physical therapy

Types of Injuries

While it is not possible to completely avoid all sports injuries, preventive measures can help to significantly reduce the risk of serious injuries such as concussions, knee or ankle injuries. There are sports in which the risk of concussions are higher than in others, and understanding how to avoid and recover from them is the key to ensure that they do not cause long-term problems. Here are the most common sports injuries:


Sprains and Strains

The most common sports injuries in children are sprains or strains, but these types of sports injuries are also common in adults. A ligament is a piece of tissue that connects two bones in a joint, such as the ligaments in the back of the knee, hip, ankle, or wrist. They can be damaged through muscle tear and overstretching, which leads to a sprain. A tendon, on the other hand, is a thick, fibrous strand of tissue that connects bones and muscles, such as the tendons at the back of the knee, hip, ankle, or wrist, where strains can occur due to muscle tear or overuse.


Joint Injuries and Swollen Muscles

If left untreated, a joint injury can become a permanent injury. Injuries to the joint cause significant swelling. You can have severe pain in the joint or bone and this pain will most likely last for more than two weeks. As soon as the swelling subsides, you can do gentle movements and exercises for the affected joint. Keep in mind that putting excessive pressure on an injured joint can cause severe pain.

sports injury

A sports injury can affect the movement of the knee joint. This can range from overstretching to a muscle tear in the knee tissue. Swollen muscles can also be painful. However, swelling is a natural reaction to an injury, and sometimes it can cause severe pain in injured areas, commonly the knee.


Head and Neck Injuries

Head and neck injuries together account for 16.4 percent of all sports injuries, but deaths from sports injuries are rare. If they do occur, they are most likely to be the result of direct head injuries.


Achilles Tendon Rupture

sports rehabilitation after sports injury

The Achilles tendon is a thin, strong tendon at the back of the ankle. In sports, the tendon can tear. When this occurs, sudden and severe pain and difficulty in walking may occur.


Dislocation & Fractures

A sports injury can dislocate bones in the body. When this happens, the bone is pushed out of its socket and fractures. This can be painful and lead to swelling and weakness. If it gets worse, it can also cause fractures in other parts of the body.


Rotator Cuff Injury

The rotator cuff keeps the shoulder moving in all directions. Four muscle parts work together to form a rotary cuff. A tear in one of these muscles can weaken the rotator cuff and cause pain, swelling, or even fractures.


Treatment

There are various treatments available to treat sports injuries as well as help you prevent them. Most of them also help relieve pain and swelling.

Let us explore how we can prevent the most common sports injuries and their treatments simultaneously.

Ice Therapy

Ice helps with swelling and pain. If you suffer a serious injury, such as an ACL tear, torn ligament, or a broken bone, stop all activities for at least 24 hours. Rest prevents further injuries and allows healing and relief of pain and inflammation. To protect the skin, apply ice with a sheet or towel and leave for about 15 minutes.


Ice or hot cold therapy for sports injury

Next, apply ice and wrap it in an elastic bandage. Wrap the ice around the injured area but don't wrap it so tightly that the blood supply is interrupted.

You can also elevate the injured area as elevation uses gravity to improve swelling by reducing blood flow to the injured area. A blood circulation injury narrows the blood vessels and prevents bleeding in various parts of the body. In addition, compression also helps support an injured joint and limits swelling.


Heat Therapy

Take things slowly and start with a heat treatment to relax tense muscles before relaxing with the exercise or sport of your choice. Warm muscles are more flexible, but cold muscles tend to overstretch and close, so you can make faster movements such as corner kicks to make injuries less likely.


Physical Therapy

If you continue to have difficulty overcoming the pain or improving function, it may be in your best interest to see a physical therapist. Physical therapy helps you get back to your normal exercise routines while preventing future injuries. This treatment is helpful for minor sports injuries and can help reduce swelling and prevent additional pain and bruises. Serious sports injuries may also require physical therapy, and if your injury does not heal within two weeks, consult a doctor.


Preventing Sports Injuries

In the United States, about 3.5 million people are injured each year through organized sports or physical activity. Sports injuries are common in young adults and children, and one-third of all injuries in children are also related to sports.

By following these tips mentioned above and knowing your treatment options, you can keep your game under control and prevent sports injuries that could put you out of action for weeks.

treatments for sports injuries

Athletes should learn the basic prevention tips to reduce the risk of injury.

When deciding whether to train or not with a specific injury, such as a knee or ankle injury, consult a physical therapist. It is important to establish a long-term action plan that can help prevent injuries. Contact Natural Chiropractic Care to learn more about how physical therapy can benefit you and how it can help you prevent sports injuries.


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