Were you aware that students who played sports display up to 40% higher test scores than those who don’t? What’s more, it appears that students who participate in sports are 15% more likely to head to college!
In adult men, physical activity also seems to play a role in a 21% decrease in coronary heart disease events. In women, the reduction is more significant, at 29%.
As exciting, fun, and health beneficial as sports are, they do come with injury risks, though. Common sports injuries, in fact, lead to millions of yearly emergency department visits.
From 2010 to 2016, for instance, 2.7 million annual ED visits resulted from such incidents. Moreover, these cases only account for injuries sustained by patients aged 5 to 24 years.
There’s still great news, though: many sports injuries are preventable. With the right tactics, you can save yourself and your kids from such painful experiences.
On that note, here are some of the best strategies you can take to prevent such injuries.
Consult Your Primary Healthcare Provider First
Get in touch with your primary doctor prior to starting any sports or physical activity. This is even more crucial if you or your little ones plan to participate in vigorous activities.
You should also consider speaking to a sports medicine doctor or specialist. Many sports medicine doctors accept insurance like Medicare. So, if you don’t have coverage yet, you might want to compare plans on Medicare Wire.
By seeing a doctor before you start any physical activity, you’ll know which ones are safe for you. After all, some health problems, such as arthritis, can make you more prone to injuries. There are also special considerations for patients with heart and blood pressure issues.
As for kids and teens, over 3.5 million sports-related injuries occur each year. Parents can help keep many of these at bay by making sure their kids can safely meet the demands of the sport. A doctor can confirm if the health of a child is proportionate to an activity’s demands.
Learn More About the Sports or the Physical Activity
If you know what an activity entails, you’ll know which injuries are more common with it.
For example, did you know that a golf swing places a significant load on the spine? So much so that the extra load it puts on the spinal cord is at least eight times the bodyweight of a person! So, it’s no wonder that most golf-related injuries trace back to the golf swing.
In a nutshell, you can keep many sports injuries at bay by learning more about proper techniques. Knowing the correct way of doing things early on fosters long-term injury prevention. Plus, you can improve your game faster if you implement these strategies from the get-go.
Always Warm Up Before Playing
Warming up literally warms up the body by boosting the blood flow to the muscles. This, in turn, raises both the internal and external temperature of the body. It’s an integral part of preparing the cardiovascular system for any physical activity.
A review of high-quality studies also suggests that warming up may reduce injury risk.
One of the best ways to warm up before play is by static and dynamic stretching. The latter refers to stretches that you do without moving the entire body. Dynamic stretching, by contrast, is stretching that incorporates body movement.
An example of static stretching is a shoulder stretch, wherein you fully extend your arms. Trunk twists and walking lunges, on the other hand, are a few types of dynamic stretching.
Stretching may also help you move better during play, as it may improve joint flexibility. Flexible joints are, in turn, vital for unrestricted and pain-free movement.
Hydrate Before, During, and After Sports or Exercise
When you do something that requires a lot of physical effort, your body releases sweat. Sweating allows the body to maintain its optimal temperature. Perspiring helps prevent “overheating” and heat-related illnesses, such as muscle cramps.
That’s why it’s vital to keep yourself hydrated all the time, even before you start moving about. Besides, losing 1% to 2% of body water can already affect cognitive performance. Of course, such deficiencies can also impair physical performance.
As a general guideline, drink at least an eight-ounce glass of water half an hour before you exercise. You should also replenish with 7 to 10 more ounces after every 10 to 20 minutes of activity. Within 30 minutes after your sports fitness session, drink another eight ounces.
All these will help you avert dehydration, which can then result in heat exhaustion. They’ll also help you and your kids avoid muscle, joint, and other soft tissue injuries.
Listen To Your Body
Overuse injuries occur when muscles or joints get injured due to repetitive trauma. This is also why many refer to them as repetitive strain or stress injuries (RSIs). Some of the most common types are strains and sprains.
Such injuries make up almost half of all sports injuries in middle and high school kids. They’re even more prevalent in adults, as many also experience work-related overuse injuries.
Lack of rest and training errors are often the culprit behind these injuries. Overtraining, for instance, can make the soft tissues susceptible to microtears. Spending hours on an activity and not taking any breaks can also make you prone to these injuries.
With that said, you can prevent these from happening by taking breaks during play. You should also tell your kids about the importance of resting whenever they feel tired. Getting at least one play- or sports-free day every week can also help keep these injuries at bay.
Don’t Forget to Gear Up
Kids and adults should always don proper and well-fitting sports and safety gear. For example, cyclists should wear helmets, gloves, as well as shoulder and knee pads. Players of more intense contact sports should also wear supporters and protective eyewear.
If you play outdoor sports, such as golf, track, or rock climbing, make sure to stay protected from the sun. Aside from breathable clothing, sunscreen should also be part of your arsenal.
Introduce Some Variation Into Your Regimen
Sticking to the same activity may also make you more prone to overuse injuries. After all, this means you’re using the same group of muscles, joints, and soft tissues every time. This repetitive utilization, in turn, can wear them out sooner, thereby leading to SRIs.
To keep your risks low, you may want to do other exercises or activities that use other tissue groups. For instance, if you do a lot of running, then you may want to incorporate some lifting to your regimen too. If you play a lot of golf, then you may want to alternate this with indoor yoga.
As for your kids, encourage them to pick up something else that they feel interested in. It doesn’t always have to require physical effort; it can be something creative. They may even want to alternate sports with mentally-stimulating activities.
Not only will this help your little ones prevent overuse injuries. It’ll also keep them interested so they can avoid becoming bored with their routine.
Keep Those Nutrients Coming In
Proper nourishment is essential for optimal health, but even more so for active folks. The more active you are, the more nutrients your body uses and requires to function at its peak. Since you’re asking your body to do more, then you must also compensate by eating right.
Otherwise, you’ll put yourself (or your kids) at risk of sports injuries. Without enough calcium, for instance, bones tend to become rickety and porous. Inadequate protein, on the other hand, can result in increased tissue injuries.
On that note, be sure to add more calcium, protein, iron, magnesium, and zinc into your diet. You should also consume more fresh products rich in antioxidants like vitamins C and E.
Cooling Down May Help
Cooling down after activity allows the heart and blood vessels to recover gradually. This may be even more important for those who’ve had a very exciting game or competition. The same goes for endurance athletes, as a “cool down” may let the body better regulate blood flow.
Many studies, however, suggest that cooling down doesn’t significantly reduce sports injuries. Still, it may not hurt to include it in your sports or fitness program. To be on the safe side, ask your primary healthcare giver for advice.
Avert Common Sports Injuries by Following These Strategies
As you can see, most common sports injuries are avoidable with proper precautions. By taking these measures, you can make the most out of every game or physical activity you do. In addition, lowering your injury risks may help improve your overall endurance.
Most importantly, you can protect yourself and your little ones from painful conditions. This, in turn, means fewer hospital or even emergency department visits.
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