If you have ever suffered a sports injury you know all too well the consequences: pain, being sidelined from further exercise for an extended period of time, reoccurring weakness and susceptibility to additional injury and more. The prevalence of sports injuries doesn’t mean you should give up your favorite sport, but that you should do everything in your power to protect yourself. Follow these 9 tips to make the most of your sporting experience.
Stretch and warm up
One of the most important things you can do for your body is to take the time needed to stretch and warm up before any sports activity. Stretching and warming up the body can improve your flexibility and range of motion and increase blood flow to your muscles. This means you are less likely to get injured, and more likely to achieve peak performance. If you are on a tight timeline, you can warm up strategically, making the most of your minutes and efforts. Make sure that you don’t stretch cold muscles. Warm-up and then stretch.
Acknowledge your limits
If you are a basketball player that hasn’t hit the court in ten years, don’t get back out there trying to do your best Kobe Bryant impersonation. If you are training for a marathon, you shouldn’t attempt to run all 26 miles on the first day. Whenever you start a new sport, use the first week to find your baseline and then gradually increase your exertion and goals from there. If you have a history of injuries or limitations, acknowledge and respect them. This doesn’t mean give up, but take the time to consult with a professional physician or physical therapist to find the safest way for you to enjoy sporting activities without causing any additional injuries.
Have the right equipment
You shouldn’t get in the car without buckling your seat belt and you shouldn’t walk into any sport without the proper equipment. For example, football requires a plethora of padding, facemasks, and helmets. Practically every other sport has specific equipment requirements. The importance of utilizing the right tools to protect your body can’t be overstated. Helmets are designed to protect you from head injuries and padding can be strategically used to protect vulnerable parts of your body. Even something seemingly small such as the correct shoes can help you maneuver and save you from injuring your knees and ankles.
While being gung-ho about your fitness is a good thing, moderation is also important. If you are participating in an intensive exercise of any kind, you need to incorporate breaks and rest days. Hitting the gym, court, pool or track 7 days a week can overstrain your body and make you much more susceptible to injuries.
Listen to your body
Whether you are 5 or 50 years old, it is worth your while to be in tune with your body. The longer you ignore a nagging pain or reoccurring issue the more time it has to develop into something serious. If you find that a certain repetitive motion or action produces a painful effect, check in with a medical professional. A physician or physical therapist may be able to assist you in strengthening your body and improving your form so that the pain is no longer a problem. However, if you ignore your body’s signals, you run the risk of a more serious and prolonged injury.
Use proper body mechanics and techniques
The body mechanics that are most important to you will depend on the sport you are participating in. A physical therapist can be an integral resource for strengthening and developing the best and safest form possible.
Don’t play through pain
While some people consider playing with an injury a badge of honor, it can do lasting damage. The simple facts are the more you push your body while injured the more permanent damage that can be done. If you are in pain, stop what you are doing and get checked out.
Get enough sleep and hydrate
Overall care of your body plays a big part in your physical performance and health. Taking steps to take care of yourself such as: getting enough sleep, proper nutrition, and drinking water can keep you and your body healthy.
Call in an expert
If you find an injury and sensation of pain is holding you back from a sport that you love, consult an expert. There are qualified doctors and physical therapists that specialize in sports therapy and rehabilitation. Don't let the unnecessary pain take away the joy you get from your favorite sport. Consult with a professional. Working with a physical therapist can do wonders for strengthening and refining your body and technique.
If you need help recovering from an injury or improving your strength or technique our office of experts is just a phone call away.