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How to prevent sports injuries

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It is well-known that being involved in sports activities has innumerable advantages. However, playing sports or doing fitness related activities does come with its downsides. Athletes often injure themselves. In fact, 24% of sports players obtain injuries. 15% of these sports injuries were experienced by playing football, according to a study by The Centre for International Health Policy of the University of Edinburgh. What’s more, 2% of the patients in emergency departments are treated for sports related injuries.

Causes of sports injuries

Practicing sports or exercising in general is good both for the body and for the mind. Being involved in any type of sports activity carries innumerable health benefits. Engaging in sports improves your overall health, your mood, concentration and it also influences the way you sleep. Practicing sports has long been linked to reducing stress and depression, as well as acting as a self-confidence booster. Of course, regularly practicing sports can help to maintain a healthy weight.

Whether you are a professional athlete, a sports enthusiast or novice, the risk of acquiring a sports injury is there nonetheless. One of the most common causes of sports injuries relates to improper use of equipment. Many sports injuries also occur as a result of wearing improper gear.

Moreover, if you are a person who is not generally active and you have just started being involved in sports, you may find yourself getting injured. This mainly happens if you have not warmed up properly before. Normally, what leads to sports injuries is insufficient stretching and wearing inappropriate or ill-fitting footwear. If you are using poorly maintained sports equipment or you are an athlete who plays on artificial turf surfaces, this will also have an impact on you getting a sports injury.

An interesting and surprising fact is that being female can also be a risk for getting sports injuries. That is due to different anatomy, muscle strength and hormonal differences. Being in poor health will be a contributing factor to getting a sports injury.

Some of the most common sports injuries include:

  • Dislocations
  • Fractures
  • Sprains
  • Muscle injuries
  • Joint injuries
  • Achilles tendon injuries

How to prevent sports injuries

All sports or sports related activities come with a risk of injury. In general, with more contact in sports there comes more risk of injury. In professional athletes who are involved in contact sports, the chances of getting a sports injury are very high. This is simply due to the type of sport which is practiced - the risk is higher.

The most injuries occur particularly in young athletes and due to overuse. There are certain steps that must be followed in order to prevent and reduce the risk of sports injuries.

If you are a professional athlete you should plan to take some time off from your sports activities. Have at least 1 day off from sports each week and aim to have at least 1 month off every year.

As a professional sports player, you should always wear the best equipment, which should fit properly on you. Sports equipment includes helmets, and pads for the neck, neck, shoulder, elbow, knee or chest, face guards and eyewear. This of course, all depends on the type of sport you practice. Protective equipment is there to protect your body, it does not necessarily mean that it will stop sports injuries from occurring.

One key element when playing sports, whether you are a professional athlete or a person playing for fun, you should also start off by making the right preparations, stretching properly before starting to play any sports. You should aim to strengthen your muscles by doing conditioning exercises. Always stretch before performing any sports. This improves flexibility, as well as helps prevent injuries, such as pulled muscles. When playing sports, always use the proper techniques. These techniques are generally outlined during the playing season. Secondly, an essential rule is to always play safe. That is one of the key points, if you do not wish to get a sports injury.

Regarding safety, you should also never play through pain. And, as pointed earlier, always do take breaks. When you rest in between your sports practice, you can prevent the risk of sports injuries and also prevent heat illness. Heat illness can also be prevented by keeping hydrated. If you drink plenty of fluids before, during and after any sports. Moreover, decrease or stop your practices during periods of time of high heat and humidity. Also, wearing light clothing is also recommended.

Tips on preventing sports injuries

Here are some of the most essential points to remember in order to avoid the risk of getting a sports injury. These are tips that any athlete should know, but also that any person involved in practising sports should be aware of.

Firstly, you need to be in proper physical condition. In order to prevent any unwanted sports injuries, you must slowly ease into your training and engage in conditioning exercises.

Secondly, warming up before playing any sport is essential in preventing the occurrence of any unwanted sports injuries. During warm-up, you raise your heart rate, condition your muscles and you improve the mobility and functionality of your body’s movements.

Thirdly, before even considering starting a new sport or engaging in some sort of sports activity, you must ensure that you have had a good night’s sleep! Sleep is vital in ensuring you make the most of your training and you can reach optimal performance. Sleep can make you stronger. Sleeping enough during the night will prevent you from fatigue, poor judgement and of course, sports injuries.

With any sport you practice, be it football, tennis, basketball or swimming and whether you are a professional athlete or only playing for fun, there are precautionary steps that you can take in order to avoid getting a sports injury and ending up in the emergency room yourself.

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