How to Avoid Sports Injuries
Sports and workout injuries can derail the best-laid fitness plans. The bed rest that must follow through doctors’ orders further ruins our resolve to stick to a fitness routine. Then, recovery makes it difficult to keep weight under check as we find it difficult to reduce our appetites, even though we now burn fewer calories. The best way to tackle these sports injuries is to prevent them in the first place. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Consultant - Sports Medicine at Moolchand Orthopaedics Hospital, says, “Though biological tissues in the human body are stretchable, they break when stretched beyond a certain limit.” In this post, he explains what the most common sports injuries are and how best we can avoid them altogether. Over to Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
The most common sports injuries are strains and sprains. Sprains are injuries to ligaments, the tough bands connecting bones in a joint. Suddenly stretching ligaments past their limits deforms or tears them. Strains are injuries to muscle fibers or tendons, which anchor muscles to bones. Strains are called “pulled muscles” because over-stretching or overusing a muscle causes tears in the muscle fibers or tendons.
Common sports injuries
- Ankle sprain
- Shin splints
- Knee Patellofemoral Syndrome (an injury resulting from repetitive movement of knee-cap against thigh bone)
- Knee ACL tear
- Hamstring strain
- Tennis elbow
- Shoulder subluxation/dislocation
Pre-hab is better that Re-hab
Sometimes, avoiding common sports injuries is beyond our control, but many times sports injuries are preventable. People bring a lot of injuries because they are not conditioned for the activity. Here are some simple tips one can follow to avoid sports injuries:
- Workout daily: To condition the body for sports, one must work out daily in graduated exercise programs relevant to the sports they play.
- Start with a gentle warm up: Every workout should start with a gentle warm-up exercise regime. Pre-participation: One must do some pre-participation training by lightly working the relevant muscle groups in the weeks before the activity.
- Overuse of muscles: This can be prevented by following a simple tip “Don't come out and hit the track and field for an hour after not playing for a while.”
- Learn to recognize pain: Pain indicates an underlying problem and it is a warning sign; do not play through the pain.
- Listen to your body: One should stop when fatigued; muscle fatigue takes away all your protective mechanisms and really increases your risk of injuries.
- Gearing up: It’s important to wear protective gear such as helmets, gloves, protective pads, shin pads and other gear; warming up and cooling down; knowing the rules of the game and to stop playing when you're injured.
- Hydrate yourself: It is also crucial to hydrate adequately to maintain health and minimize cramps.
- Learn a sport: Don’t rely on the sport to get you into shape. Your first priority should be to learn the sport, and then treat toning up as an added benefit.
Healing sports injuries
Keep in mind that swelling is a normal response to sports and workout injuries. You can limit swelling and start healing faster after most sports injuries by using the RICE principle.
R-Restrict activity: This will prevent worsening of the injury.
I-apply Ice: Use ice for 20 minutes every 1-2 hours for the first 48 hours after the injury. Do not use heat during this time as it encourages swelling and inflammation.
C-apply Compression: Compression with an elastic bandage will help reduce swelling.
E-Elevate the injured area: Elevating the injured area above the heart will also reduce swelling.
In order to prevent further worsening and harmful effects of an injury, it is also important to know when to seek medical attention. If you have any signs such as deformities in the joint or bone which makes it look crooked or moves abnormally, you are unable to bear weight or can't use the limb without it ‘giving way’, excessive swelling, not getting any better after a few days of RICE therapy, you need to see a doctor.