Tips for Preventing Sports Injuries

By Shannon Allen , last updated November 17, 2011

Sports injuries are one of the most frustrating and detrimental obstacles most athletes face. However, many of the most common injuries can be prevented. The following article presents several tips for avoiding sports injuries.

Proper Warm up and Cool down Techniques

A proper warm up and cool down should be an essential part of your exercise routine. Warming up gradually increase your body’s temperature and heart rate, allowing blood to carry oxygen to your muscles and begin removing cell waste. As your body temperature increases, your joints increase their range of motion, preventing many of the muscle and ligament tears that occur from rushing into a high intensity workout. Athletes should plan on at least 10 to 15 minutes for a sufficient warm up that gradually increases the heart rate and incorporates some active stretching.

Similar to the warm up, the cool down helps your body slowly return to its normal conditions. When athletes abruptly finish an intense work out, the body is more prone to store up any lactic acid produced in the muscles, causing more stiffness and soreness. Instead, athletes should incorporate a 10 to 15 minute cool down into their exercise routine. The cool down should slowly decrease in intensity to bring down your heart rate. Once your heart isn’t beating so fast, stretching should be done to help the muscles relax and restore to their original size. Static stretching is best when performed post-workout, while your muscles are warm and more conducive to being stretched.

Know Your Body’s Limits

Many injuries occur from people pushing their body’s way past the limit. Athletes who run marathons and do Iron Man competitions train for months to condition their bodies for such extreme circumstances. Therefore, you cannot expect to engage in an intense physical activity without training and not inflict some kind of injury upon yourself. Start any kind of new exercise slowly to allow your body to adapt to the demands you are placing upon it. Similarly, as you train and condition your body, be in tune with the messages it is sending you. When something feels tight or hurts, listen to your body and ease up on your intensity. You may need to spend a little more time warming up and cooling down, or even give your body a few days to rest. Ignoring the signals from your body may lead to a more serious injury, resulting in more time lost from your fitness training.

Wear Proper Equipment

One of the biggest contributors to injuries is inefficient gear. Shoes may be the biggest factor because they influence a lot of the movement the rest of the body makes. One of the best investments you can make is to buy a pair of shoes that caters to your personal gait form. Many shoes offer support for runners who pronate, while others offer extra arch support. In addition, many sports offer gear specifically designed to protect you while you perform. Helmets, pads and other types of safety gear should always be worn while you are participating in such sports to keep you safe and protected.

Resources and References
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