Playing sports is great fun and an excellent way to stay healthy and in shape, no matter what the age. But what are the best ways to avoid injury while playing them? It’s important to train your muscles in the way you will use them during competition. Running every week at a 10-minute mile will not prepare you for sprinting up and down a soccer field on the weekend. The same muscles are being utilized but in a much different way. Throwing a ball in the backyard is not the same as pitching multiple innings in a baseball game. Whether you are playing in a rec league, a competitive league or professionally, there are steps you can take to protect your body from injury. Here are just a few ways you can stay healthy and safe while having fun:
- Wear proper head gear: mouthguards, helmets, eye protection help prevent concussions and trauma to face and teeth. Football, lacrosse, ice hockey are contact sports that require proper head protection.
- Learn proper techniques: many injuries are sustained from over-use. If proper techniques are utilized while throwing a ball, hitting a puck or kicking a ball you can stay safe to play another day. Also, knowing how to check properly or tackle can help prevent you injuring someone else.
- Maintain a strong core: power is transferred from a strong core through the shoulders and hips. The spine stays protected from checks, hits, rapid deceleration and acceleration when you have a strong core. In contact sports, padding in addition to strong abdominal muscles can help protect the organs from any blunt force trauma.
- Treat an injury immediately: if you sustain an injury, R.I.C.E. immediately. Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevate. Continue with this protocol for first 72 hours until swelling resolves or until you can see a healthcare provider. If you hit your head, check for a concussion. Most coaches are now trained in screening for concussions. And don’t return to sports before you are ready. Returning to sports before you have healed properly just leads to re-injury and possibly more damage. Take the proper amount of time to recover and seek out a physical therapist to help you rehab correctly from your injury.