Protect yourself and your kids from sports injuries

Protect yourself and your kids from sports injuries.

An estimated one in four sports injuries could be prevented if athletes would take a few simple precautions. Not using the right equipment or overdoing things too quickly can take their toll on your body and lead to preventable injuries, including a sprained ankle, pulled hamstring, shin splints, tennis elbow, pulled groin, and knee injuries.
Instead of hanging out on the sidelines this season, follow these simple safety rules to lessen your chances of getting injured.

Introducing the Top Two

Most sport injuries have one or two things in common. Either the participant has a history of injury or he or she doesn’t get adequate rest between workout sessions. If you’ve had a previous muscle or joint injury, there is a good chance it will develop into a long-term problem if it wasn’t treated properly or rehabilitated completely. Therefore, extra caution is needed when participating in a sport following an injury.

The second most common cause of sports injury results from lack of rest between training days. If you play or train hard on consecutive days, your muscles and connective tissues have no time to repair themselves and will be prone to injury. Unexciting as it may be, rest is an important part of physical training. It will actually make you stronger and help prevent injuries caused by overuse, poor judgment, and muscle fatigue.

Doing the Dos and Don’ts

Don’t become a stat. Follow these simple tips to lessen your chance of injury this season.

Do get in shape before participating in a new sport. Don’t hope to get in shape by playing the sport, but gradually train your muscles for your particular sport.

Don’t exercise if you’re in pain or if your muscles are fatigued. Listen to your body. It may be telling you to take a day off. If it’s been a while since you’ve exercised, don’t expect to perform at the level you were able to in high school. Know your limits, and remember that they change as you age.

Do warm up prior to working out, even if you’ll be playing golf. Go for a short 5- or 10-minute brisk walk or jog, then do some light stretches that mimic the movements you’ll be doing during your sport. Following your workout, do a cool-down period to slowly reduce your heart rate.

Don’t push yourself too soon. Don’t expect to run a 5K after a week of training. Your body needs time to adjust to new fitness levels. Each time you exercise, gradually increase the duration or intensity.

Do use appropriate safety equipment for your sport. If running, wear supportive shoes. If you’re cycling or playing football, wear a helmet. If you’re playing soccer, wear well-fitting cleats and shin guards. Make sure the equipment you use fits properly and is in good condition. Protective gear isn’t just for wimps. You’d be a lot wimpier with a cracked skull.

Don’t break the rules. Each sport has its own set of rules, and many are designed to keep you safe. This is especially true of contact sports. Don’t just know the rules. Follow them.

Do use proper form. Repeatedly performing motions using the wrong form can lead to injuries such as stress fractures and tendonitis.

Don’t do the same exercise all the time. Cross train with various exercises that include cardiovascular, flexibility, and strength training. This will give you a total body workout and reduce your risk of injury.

Do stay hydrated. Drink water prior to, during, and following your workout. Aim to drink a cup of fluid at least every 20 minutes during exercise.

It Could Happen to You

Not all sports injuries are preventable. If you experience pain, stop playing. See your doctor if you have severe pain, numbness, or swelling; if an old injury begins to hurt or swell; or if a joint feels abnormal. For other injuries, try home treatment for two days with RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation).

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