Playing sports and doing physical exercise is integral in maintaining a healthy body and mind, and in order to continue with it, sports injury prevention should be top of your agenda. The more often you do physical exercise, the more likely you are to sustain sports injuries. Fortunately there are measures you can take to keep yourself safe and injury-free, with or without the help of a physiotherapist. Here are our top tips on sports injury prevention for good health.
Never underestimate the importance of staying hydrated for injury prevention. Hydration is central to maintaining a safe body temperature and dehydration can result in your overheating quickly. Being dehydrated affects your performance too, because your body can’t deliver as much oxygen to your muscles.
Maintaining a good body temperature is important to avoid heat stroke, muscle cramping and heat exhaustion. You should also make sure that the environment you are training in is well ventilated and not too hot. Working out in a humid environment can contribute to greater moisture loss while training. Be sensible and don’t workout during the hottest part of the day.
Invest in sports clothing, which is designed to keep your body temperature cool and consistent.
The best approach is to make sure you are well hydrated before you start physical activity. Drinking too much while you are physically active can flush the electrolytes out of your body.
Make Sure You Warm Up And Cool Down
Many serious sports injuries can be avoided by the simple steps of warming up and cooling down. A sensible approach is to take five to 15 minutes to do gentle aerobic exercises, working up in intensity until you have developed light perspiration.
You can also do some light stretching, which introduces blood flow to all of your muscles to help avoid sports injuries. This boosts flexibility and reduces your chances of an injury by ensuring blood flow to the area. Remember that you should only stretch once your muscles have been warmed up.
Cooling down is an important step not to skip out if you want to avoid muscle stiffness and sports injuries after a work out. It also oxygenates your muscles and delivers nutrients to them, while removing any toxins that may have accumulated.
Steady Does It
Learn to work your way up in exercise intensity. Building up in intensity is important for each work out, but also in terms of your overall fitness goals. A sports physio can help you to set attainable fitness goals, and help you to reach them while avoiding sports injuries.
A physiotherapist and other sports professionals will advise you to manage your progress in terms of FIT – fitness, intensity and time. You should only look to increase one component every week in order to avoid serious injury.
Wear The Right Gear
Using the correct equipment is a barrier to sports injury prevention, especially when it comes to footwear. Wearing the correct footwear for your level of activity or type of sport matters because it ensures that impact is absorbed around your joints so you don’t over-exert them. Joint injuries are common, especially as we get older and choosing the correct footwear is integral in sports injury prevention.
The kind of feet you have, as well as where you step, also play a role in determining the kind of footwear you need. If you’re in doubt a physiotherapist can help you make the correct choice for your sport.
Wearing the right protective gear for your sport also matters for avoiding sports injuries. Helmets, knee pads and elbow pads should always be worn where there is a risk of impact.
How To Treat A Sports Injury?
Serious conditions should be managed by a medical professional such as a sports physio but knowing how to treat minor injuries can help with more serious sports injury prevention. The RICED Method is a useful approach to learn for sports injuries like sprains and strains:
Rest: this means you need to stop physical activity immediately so the muscle or injured area can rest completely.
Ice: Ice the area for at last 20 minutes after the injury has occured. Then you should apply an ice pack every four hours thereafter. This can help to minimise swelling and help with pain management.
Compress: compress the injured area with a bandage.
Elevate: keep the injured limb or area elevated to prevent blood pooling and swelling from taking place.
Diagnosis: Once you have managed the injury yourself, get a medical diagnosis from a physiotherapist or doctor. This is to ensure you have the correct treatment, to prevent sports injuries from getting worse. You may need some medicine to get you back to good health.
General Guidelines For Avoiding Sports Injuries
Be extra careful if you are returning to exercises after a period of illness or if you were sedentary before. Pace yourself correctly so that you don’t overdo it – and don’t assume you can return to your previous levels of intensity straight away as this puts you at greater risk of developing sports injuries.
If you have not been exercising it is always a good idea to check your intended routine with a physiotherapist or get the go-ahead from your doctor. This is especially true if you suffer from a chronic condition or are taking medication.
It’s always best to consult a professional sports physio for sports injury prevention – particularly if you have not been active before. Please contact us for a customised plan: (02) 9159 6903.