Playing a sport is one of the more enjoyable ways to build exercise into your day. The game involves your mind in a way a treadmill or stationary bike might not. No matter at what level you play, though, there’s a risk of sports-related injury.
The good news is that most injuries are preventable, provided that you’re properly equipped and aware of the risks. When even your best preparations fall short, contact a sports medicine specialist like Dr. Franz Jones, DO, to minimize your time on the sidelines. Here, Dr. Jones offers five tips to help you prevent sports-related injuries, no matter what your game.
Trauma and overuse injuries
Sports injuries are generally divided into two types. Trauma injuries are the most obvious, perhaps stemming from body contact or motion that causes a sprain or other tissue problem. While less visible, overuse injuries are more common because many of these emerge slowly rather than from a sudden event.
You must consider both types of injury when planning for a trouble-free season. Incorporate these tips into your injury-free game plan.
1. Understand your sport
Many rules of sports are designed to keep participants safe. This is particularly true with contact sports like football and hockey. Avoiding common penalties isn’t just good sportsmanship; it protects you and your opponents from injury. Know the rules, follow them, and understand the expectations of your sport.
2. Know your fitness level
Sports participation has a way of demanding your best, pushing you to the edges of performance. It’s tempting sometimes to push too far.
Be honest with yourself about your fitness level. Games themselves don’t get you into game shape. Develop and follow a regular conditioning plan that’s suitable for your sport so you can build toward delivering top performance on the field.
3. Use the proper gear
Protective equipment is often there to prevent trauma injuries, like a baseball batting helmet for instance. Always play with standard safety gear.
Sometimes, though, your equipment choices may be less obvious. Sports footwear is specialized for reasons of comfort, efficiency, and protection. Matching the right shoe to your game can be the difference between regular participation and time off to recover from overuse injuries.
4. Never skip your warmup
The fun part is the game, of course, but you must be ready. It takes your body longer to be ready than your mind, so always complete your warmup. Cold muscles are susceptible to strain at lower levels of exertion. Develop a routine that includes sport-specific stretching or low-intensity drills.
5. Listen to your body
In the heat of competition, it’s easy to ignore the effects of play on your body. The rush of adrenaline is part of the appeal of sport, but it also causes chemical changes in your body. Some of these help you perform better, but they can also mask pain.
Check in with your body from time to time, and learn the difference between “good” pain from muscle exertion and other clues that an injury is pending or already occurred, such as with aching or discomfort in your joints.
Get the right care when injuries happen
Even with an effective injury prevention plan, there are times when you need to manage recovery and pain. Contact Dr. Franz Jones and his team by scheduling an appointment by phone or online at any of his three South Florida locations. In the meantime, stay smart and play safe.