After a sedentary work week, you want to get up and play on the weekend.
That’s great. However, whether you play sports for competition or
fitness, you do not want to be sidelined with an injury. While it is impossible
to prevent every injury, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
research suggests that injury rates could be reduced by 25% if athletes
took appropriate preventative action. Here are a few methods to help you
prevent an injury no matter what sport you play:
A dynamic warm up is essential for injury prevention. This should include
sport-specific movement activities that engage the primary and secondary
muscles that will be used, and a gentle cardiovascular exercise such as
jogging. Warming up improves performance and increase blood flow to soften
tissues, helping to prevent sprains, strains and tears.
Wear The Right Gear
Athletes should wear appropriate and properly fitted protective equipment
such pads, helmets, mouthpieces, face guards, protective cups, eyewear
and other equipment. Never play without your safety gear, it is not a
sign of weakness.
Play by the Rules
The rules are designed, in part, to keep things safe. This is extremely
important for anyone who participates in a contact sport. You need to
learn them and to play by the rules of conduct. Respect the rules on illegal
procedures and insist on enforcement by referees, umpires and judges.
These rules are there to keep athletes healthy. Know them. Follow them.
Keep in mind the weekend warrior has a high rate of injury. If you play
any sports, you should adequately train for that sport. It is a mistake
to expect the sport itself to get you into shape. Many injuries can be
prevented by following a regular conditioning program of exercises designed
specifically for your sport.
Athletes with a high number of consecutive days of training, have more
injuries. While many athletes think the more they train, the better they
will play, this is a misconception. Rest is a critical component of proper
training. Rest can make you stronger and prevent injuries of overuse,
fatigue and poor judgment.
After any workout or game, a cool down is essential. Once your heart rate
and breathing have returned to normal levels, take 15 minutes to stretch.
Cooling down properly will help reduce lactic acid build up and in turn
prevent stiffness and soreness.
Listen to Your Body
Before, during and after engaging in physical activity, always listen
to your body. It is normal to feel some general soreness and stiffness
when exercising, but if you experience strong or sharp pain, take a rest.
Pain is often a warning sign that you are pushing your body too far, or
that you have injured yourself. If the pain persists, seek assistance
from a healthcare professional.