During the fall, football and soccer seasons are in full swing. Thousands of individuals from every age group are participating in these sports across the United States. With so many people involved in practices and games, the chances for injury will obviously go up around this time of year. Some of the most common types of sports injuries include muscle sprains and strains, torn ligaments or tendons, dislocated joints, bone fractures, and head injuries like concussions.
Like it or not, if you or your children engage in physical sports, your chances of sustaining one of these injuries is very likely. However, there are some preventative measures you can take to avoid getting hurt. Now is a great time to review what you can do to keep you and your children healthy and injury free during sports related activities.
Practice & Training
If you or your kids are gearing up for the start of a particular sporting season, it would be wise to begin training a few weeks early. This means that you shouldn’t go from being largely inactive one day to exercising like a maniac the next. Your body will not be ready to handle this type of change and your muscles will be very overworked, leading to a higher potential for injuries.
Instead, start slow. You should get in shape sooner rather than wait until the first day of conditioning. Many sports related injuries occur early in a season because your muscles and joints have not had the chance to adapt to the increased levels of stress. To avoid injuries early on, start slowly and work your way to the level of intensity needed.
This one may seem obvious, but having the proper gear when playing sports is very important. In high contact sports, you need to be protected as much as possible. One common piece of equipment that is often overlooked are mouth guards. Also, if you or your child is involved in a high contact sport, make sure they have helmets when appropriate to help avoid the risk of concussions. Make sure you or your child always have padding and the protective gear required and that it is in good, usable condition.
Another common piece of equipment that can sometimes be forgotten is the necessary footwear. Shoes are really something you should spend more money on when it comes to performance because they can heavily aid in preventing injuries.
Often times, injuries can occur if the muscles, tendons, and ligaments have not had enough time to warm up. Regardless of age, everyone should stretch and loosen up before beginning any physical activity. Doing some light cardio to get your blood circulating and your heart pumping are great ways to reduce the chances of injury. Most sports teams will do team stretches at the start of practices and games. However, stretch and warm up outside of organized sporting events as well.
Our bodies work much like a car in that we need energy and proper maintenance in order to perform. Just like a car needs gasoline, your body needs food and water to sustain. If you are not getting proper nutrition and hydration, your muscles will be much more likely to fatigue, increasing the potential for injuries.
After post-workout and practice is an essential time to refuel and rehydrate your body. Make sure you get a full post-workout meal. Eat plenty of carbohydrates and protein, but try to limit the fat levels. Drink plenty of water throughout the day leading up to and after workouts so you can stay properly hydrated. Eat lost of fruits and vegetables as well to give your body the essential nutrients it needs to sustain and recover.
Rest and recovery time are another great way to avoid injuries. Give yourself enough time to relax and treat your body with care. On off days, don’t do anything too physically strenuous. Use ice and heating pads as needed to treat muscle soreness and fatigue. Taking ice baths or cold showers is another great way to help your muscles recover after intense workouts.
Sometimes, no matter how prepared and conditioned you are, injuries and accidents can still occur. If a sports team, individual, or coaching staff break certain rules, the risk of injury for the players can be greatly increased. Also, if a coaching staff, school, or other organization fail to promptly treat an injured player, things can get worse and lead to longer term problems. If you find yourself in a situation like this, you can seek legal help to make sure you are protected and get the money and aid you need to properly treat your injuries.