3 Injuries You’ll Probably Experience and How to Avoid Them
Whether you’re a full-time, professional athlete, or just someone who likes to get out in the fresh air a few times a week, the chances are good that you’ve experienced at least one injury, either slight or severe.
Fortunately, most injuries can be treated if you see a medical professional and receive physiotherapy in time. And, if you’re savvy, many of the most common injuries can be avoided through careful preparation and knowledge. Here are three injuries we see frequently, along with a breakdown of what they are and how to avoid them.
1 - Repetitive strain injuries
Everyone has heard of Tennis Elbow (lateral epicondylitis). This, along with patellofemoral syndrome and various others, is what’s commonly called a repetitive strain injury - in other words, it’s strain cause by repeating the same movement over and over.
Caused by: These types of injuries aren’t purely caused by repetition; they are also partly caused by improper or inadequate preparation and muscles that aren’t quite strong enough to handle the pressure.
How to avoid it: Warming up properly helps get your blood flowing and reduces the risk of injury. Also, don’t try to break records on the first go; build up your strength and flexibility over a period of days, weeks, even months, and your chances of these injuries will drop dramatically.
2 - Tendon and ligament injuries
Tendons and ligaments are connective tissue that, respectively, connect bones to joints and muscles to bones. When you are physically active, your tendons and ligaments are busy doing their jobs to the maximum, and they are at risk or injury. Examples of these types of injury are ankle sprain, groin pull, hamstring or hip flexor strain, and ACL tears.
Caused by: There are a few ways you can injure a tendon or ligament, but the most common are strains and sprains. These occur when you stretch your connective tissue past its point of endurance, and it either tears or gets deformed. This can either happen because you’ve pushed yourself past the limit of what you can do, or if your form is not correct.
How to avoid it: There are three important things to focus on - preparation, form, and stretching. It’s critically important to make sure that your muscles and connective tissues are properly warmed up before you engage in any kind of sports. This helps loosen up the tendons and ligaments, and makes them more accepting of hard work. Also, as far as possible, ensure you are performing your movements correctly, as proper form is designed to reduce the risks of injury. Finally, after your workout or event, take some time to cool down and stretch, as this helps stop the ligaments and tendons from contracting too much, and keeps them lengthened.
3 - Shin splints
Most frequently experienced by runners, or those who participate in sports that require a lot of running, like rugby or soccer, shin splints are a sharp pain in the shins - the front part of the lower leg.
Frequently those experiencing shin splints are coming back to fairly intensive exercise after a period of rest - for example, professional athletes at the start of training season. This type of pain occurs when you run too hard, for too long, and your body isn’t prepared for it.
How to avoid it: The only way to prevent shin splints is through careful preparation. Once again, don’t try to push yourself too hard on day one. It’s far more beneficial to build up your strength and endurance over several training sessions, and to ensure you get proper rest in between.
The common thread with avoiding all types of sports injuries is preparation and rest - it’s so important to make sure your body is ready to handle what you throw at it, and to give it a chance to recover. No matter what type of sport you participate in, always be sure to warm up thoroughly, cool down and stretch properly, and seek treatment whenever something feels wrong.