How to avoid sports injuries?
To completely avoid sports injuries, you should not practice any sports at all. Indeed, all sports (even petanque) can lead to injuries. It would be unrealistic to think that we can practice sports for decades without having a single injury.
Injuries are just part of the game, and any athlete will have to deal with them one day or another.
However, some sportspeople are rarely injured, while others are frequently injured. So, what makes the difference?
The answer is complex. Sports injuries are related to many factors, some of them out of our control. But before looking at these factors, let’s see what are the most common sport injuries.
Most common sports injuries
The area injured varies according to the sport. In most cases, it’s the lower part of the body, the legs, that are getting hurt.
On the other hand, the most common types of injury are less related to the type of sport than to our body’s biomechanics.
This is why the most common injuries are sprains and muscle strains, regardless of what sport is practiced.
In most sports, the athlete is moving and/or does twisting motions with different joints of his body.
When the athlete is moving, bad footwork or simply a misplaced foot on the ground can quickly trigger a loss of balance and a sprained ankle.
Muscle strains are just super common because no matter what sports you practice, you will activate your muscles greatly.
Whether it is because of exhaustion, explosive movement, micro-injury, lack of stretching, or else, muscle strains are just the thing that every athlete dreads.
Factors of sports injuries
Sports injuries are related to many factors, some of them out of our control. Fortunately, working on the ones we can control will make a significant difference.
We can classify them into five main categories:
- Effort and recovery
- Biomechanical understanding
- The daily context
- Health status
- The diversity of practices
In this article, we are going to develop the first and most important one: effort and recovery. But first, let’s quickly talk about the others.
Biomechanics explores and analyzes the mechanical principles and properties as well as the ingenious and mysterious functioning of living organisms.
In sports, biomechanics understanding allows us to practice correctly without hurting ourselves and, amongst other things, always to improve the efficiency of our movements.
The daily context is the routine and the environment of the sportspeople. It is the state of his body outside of the sports practice.
This is the impact and difference between practicing sport once a week and the rest of the time sitting behind a desk or being very active physically every day.
Whether you have a preexisting condition, you are suffering from chronic disease, or the after-effects of a medical procedure, your health state is going to affect your ability to practice sports.
To what degree will depend on your health state and the type of sport you practice. The more extreme the sport is, the more crucial it is to have a good health state.
Diversity of practices
The more different sports your practice, the lesser chance you will have of getting injured. Why? The explanation is very simple: the more varied your sports practice is, the more your body learns different movements.
As your body becomes smarter, it automatically improves its ability to avoid injuries.
Effort and recovery
Easy to understand but neglected by most athletes, the effort and recovery category comprises 4 factors.
After practicing sport, a natural and normal phenomenon appears within 24 to 48 hours: muscle soreness.
This sign that your muscles have done a lot of work and need to repair themselves.
Once the muscles are repaired, the soreness fades, but residual muscle tension remains one thing the body can’t resolve by itself.
This is where muscle stretching comes in.
By stretching, you remove this residual muscle tension, bringing your muscles back to a harmonious state with a full range of motion.
Stretching regularly will prevent residual muscle tension from accumulating and increasing the risk of muscle tear, one of the most common sports injuries.
During sleep, our body regenerates itself.
In the days following an intense physical effort, sleep is even more crucial because the body, in addition to the daily regeneration, must repair the micro injuries produced by the sport.
It is critical for anyone practicing sport to keep a sufficient quality and quantity of sleep.
Lacking sleep means lacking self-regeneration but not only. Sleep is also vital for mental awareness, which is essential to practicing safe sports.
Get help with your health issues
Drinking enough water while doing sports is obvious, yet how many athletes still forget to do it? Far too many.
They are many reasons for that, but one of the most common is to wait for the thirst.
Generally, when you don’t practice sport, it’s ok to wait to be thirsty to drink. It’s not ideal, but it won’t be problematic for your health.
However, waiting for the thirst is not advisable when practicing sports. The reason is simple: when you exercise, you are losing water much quicker than usual, therefore, the moment you will start to feel thirsty, it will be too late.
We, therefore, remind you here very clearly: you must drink water before, during, and after exercise.
Dehydration increases the risk of all injuries while slowing down the recovery process.
Warming up correctly
Warming up before practicing any physical activity is essential to avoid sports injuries. Why?
Because our body is not functioning at 100 % of its abilities all the time. As a basic mechanism of survival, our body is programmed to spare as much energy as possible, putting in sleeping mode all that is not used at the moment.
Therefore when we are about to practice sports (after a day of work at the office, for example), it is vital that we warm up properly our body so it can be at the fullest of our abilities.
This is especially important for weekend sports warriors, who do not exercise 98% of the time.
To warm up correctly, it’s capital to understand the two main goals of a warm-up, which are:
- Stimulating blood flow throughout the body, especially in our limbs and muscles
- Increasing body awareness
But in order to warm up correctly, it is very important to avoid a big mistake: using stretching as a warm-up. It is a terrible idea, and yet, many sportspeople are still doing it.
Stretching is helpful to eliminate residual muscle tension, not to warm up. When you stretch, you relax the muscles, which is not what you want just before a physical effort. On top of that, we need to warm up in order to stretch to avoid muscle tears, therefore, using stretching as a warm-up doesn’t make any sense.
They are different correct ways to warm up, but in all cases, it should be composed of different mobility exercises adapted to the sport your practice. Therefore we are not going to warm up the same for tennis, climbing, soccer, or hockey.
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