The Reliance GP Blog

6 Tips to prevent Sports Injury
Missy Tysoe August 30, 2017

Safe Sport – How to prevent injury in 6 simple steps

Who doesn’t love sport! We do! Probably because of the endorphins (happy hormones) released in your brain from doing exercise – but we will save that for another day. Unfortunately, sport comes with the risk of injury.  The good news is, 50% of sports injuries are preventable – that’s half if you do the maths!

Sports injuries are caused by direct impact, or the overuse of, the body part than it is structurally “designed” to withstand. There are two types of sports injuries: acute and chronic. An injury that occurs suddenly, such as falling and spraining an ankle, is known as an acute injury. A chronic injury on the other hand, is caused over a longer term overuse of the muscle or joint.

The most common injuries are;

  • joint sprains— knee, ankle, shoulder and finger injuries
  • muscle strains—hamstring, calf, quadricep
  • tendon injuries—achilles, patella and gluteal tendon pain
  • bone overuse injuries—such as ‘shin splints’ or stress fractures (particularly in the lower limbs. The impact of repeated jumping or running on hard surfaces can eventually stress and crack bone
  • mild concussions – symptoms include dizziness, headache and memory loss

6 Steps to avoid sports injury

Most sports injuries are caused by shocking the body by not warming up before strenuous activity. Other causes of injury are the incorrect use of equipment and insufficient safety precautions. Competitive or professional athletes are most at risk as their intense training regimes can strain certain muscles through overuse.
It is difficult to prevent all injuries due to the unpredictable nature of sports but it is possible to take these steps and reduce your risk of an injury.

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Warm Up

The warm-up is the most important and effective way to reduce injury because it gradually increases the blood flow to the muscles, which in turn increases flexibility and reduces the risk of strain.
A good warm-up session be at least 5-10 minutes long and involves gently stretching muscles or softly exercising (walking or jogging). It is best to start the warm-up slowly and build up gradually to a more brisk and energetic pace i.e. walking briefly before building up to a jog.
Once you’re warmed up, you can do some gentle stretches to lengthen the muscles and tendons. Pay particular attention to the muscles you will be using most during your sport or exercise (i.e. focus on legs for soccer, or focus on arms/shoulders/core and back for rowing. Most sports will incorporate many muscle groups).

 

Fuel your body with the right things

The body performs at its optimum level when it is hydrated, so drink plenty of water.
Once again, everyone is unique and you need to ensure you are getting what YOUR body needs. I keep a food diary of what I eat (I use an app called Myfitnesspal, which counts macros as well as micronutrients). I like to think of this as a fuel gage, like we have in the car, it helps me see what type of fuel sources might need topping up. On days where I am training strength and lifting heavy weights for example, I try and get as much magnesium as possible to help with muscle recovery. Magnesium can be found in dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds and fish. Many women are low in iron, and I find my iron levels fluctuate with my hormones – so on days where I am feeling light headed I will aim to eat food sources rich in iron – red meat, seafood, beans, and dark leafy greens. If I am preparing for a sprint training session, I will try and increase my Vitamin B intake for high energy levels – mostly found in animal products like meat, poultry and seafood. It is also available in supplement form.
Everyone is different and over time you will get to know what your body needs. Reliance offers dietary advice via our nutritionist, call 43 041 333 to see a GP and get a referral.

 

Use  protective equipment

Protective equipment is important to prevent injury and ranges for each sport – it might be the right helmet for biking, a mouth-guard for football, shin pads in hockey, boxing gloves or protective head gear, or even simply the right shoes for running. The correct shoes can offer support to the foot and ankle, helping to prevent twisting and injury.
Everybody has a unique bone structure, and in some cases (like my own) you may need to see a podiatrist or chiropractor to assess your posture, knees or feet and ensure you are wearing the right equipment, shoes or orthotic shoe inserts for your body. Allied health professionals are available at Reliance – call 43041 333 to see a GP and you can get a referral to our podiatrist, chiropractor, physiotherapist or x-ray services all under the one roof.
Protective head gear is obviously extremely important, as helmets protect the skull and the brain from damage. This is vital in contact sports where the head may be knocked and risk concussion or serious head injury.

 

Get your technique right

By practicing good form and technique you can reduce the risk of injury to muscles, tendons and bones. You should consult your coach, a PT or a physiotherapist to ensure you are using the right technique to get the most out of your body with the least risk of injury. This is also important in the gym, where incorrect form can lead to repetitive strain or injury. It also helps with the skill and ability to help you excel at what you’re doing.

 

Know your limits 

It’s important to listen to your body and know your physical limits. When first start something new like a new sport, your body may not be used to using or stretching the muscles required, so build up your pace slowly. If you are injured, give your body time to recover and seek medical advice as to when you can return – you will do your body more harm than good by training on an injury, and it may lead to long term irreversible damage.

Cool down

While warming up increases blood flow, cooling down helps eliminate waste products like lactic acid which can build up and cause pain after an intense game or work-out. After your game, spend at least 5-10 minutes walking (or another soft exercise) to return your heart rate to a normal pace. The cool-down also helps your blood flow return to normal and replace oxygen and nutrients. This is essential for muscle recovery.
After walking you also wish to do some gentle stretching exercises to lengthen the muscles and maintain your flexibility and agility (which is vital in some sports). This may also prevent muscles feeling stiff and bulky as they increase in strength and size.

 

Medical attention for any injury is vital – visit an emergency department for urgent matters, or for mild injuries come and see a doctor. At Reliance we have a range of allied health professionals available under the one roof at both our Wyong and West Gosford clinics with access to chiro, physio, podiatry, nurses and xrays. We also have the excellent GP Dr Fady Malak with a background in orthopedics, who specialises in sports injury and his consultations are fully bulk billed. Call 43041333 to book. 

Author: Melissa Tysoe

Sources:

Reliance Health Staff & Medical Practioners

Australian Physiotherapy Association – Sports Injuries Retrieved 30 August from website

Sports Medicine Information How can I avoid a sports injury?  Retrieved 30 August from website

American Medical Society for Sports Medicine Overuse injuries, burnout in youth sports can have long-term effects (2014) Retrieved 30 August from website

 

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