Australians love their sport, it keeps them fit and provides good social interaction; it is a key aspect of Australian life. Participation and age show a strong correlation with teens aged 15 to 17 being the major percentage of sporting participants.
Statistics show once high school sport is finished, three quarters of those aged between 25 and 44 still participate in sport. The Dad and Mum sporting weekend warriors are usually not as well conditioned or proficient in their chosen sport and therefore could be putting themselves at risk to injury in their quest to keep fit.
With all these people participating in sports, approximately 50% of them sustain an injury which could have been preventable if the proper precautions had been taken prior to their activity. Prevention is not only beneficial in the short term, but as we age, over the long term as well.
Not all injuries associated with a particular sport can be avoided, however if proper precautions are taken injury rates may be lowered by as much as 25%.
Ankle Strains & Sprains:
These are the most common form of injury. Sprains are to ligaments that connect bones in a joint and when their limits are reached by the foot turning inward for example, this action stretches or tears the ligaments. Strains or pulled muscles are caused by over use of the fibres or tendons which secure muscles to the bones. Continuing exercise is important to prevent loss of strength and maintain flexibility so as the injury does not to re-occur. Check with your Doctor of Physio to see what exercises you can do
Is caused by a side-to-side motion straining the inner thigh muscles. Soccer, football and hockey are the sports mainly associated with groin injuries. Ice, compression with an elasticised bandage and rest will help heal most groin injuries. If you return too early to your chosen activity this could cause long-term problems.
The Hamstring is three muscles in the back of the thigh that can be overstretched by kicking a ball, hurdling, running and falling forward. Hamstring injuries are slow to heal as the constant stress around the injured tissue by walking inhibits the healing process and can take 6 up to 12 months to be back to normal.
This occurs when the front and lower legs are in pain and can be swollen and bruised. It is mostly caused by more strenuous marathon type running on hard surfaces. It can be alleviated by resting and placing ice on the affected area.
Knee Joint Injuries:
The ACL or Anterior Cruciate Ligament which holds the leg bone to the knee is a very common injury caused by repetitive movement of the knee cap or through being injured in a football match caused by a tackle from the side causing the ACL to strain or tear. This is potentially the most severe knee injury and will require surgery for those who still wish to participate in their chosen sport. As an exercise physiologist, this is one of the sporting injuries we deal with. Developing the muscles after such a severe injury is important to prevent recurring injuries.
Patellofemoral syndrome: Is a pain caused by the constant movement of the kneecap against the thigh bone damaging the tissue under the kneecap. People who participate in running, volleyball and basketball are most susceptible to this injury. When this occurs it is important to continue some low impact exercise for approximately 6 weeks. Working on the Quadriceps can also relieve the pain.
How To Prevent Sporting Injuries
At times preventing common sports injuries is not as easy as it sounds, however if you are conditioned for your chosen sport by working out to some degree daily, you will not be putting yourself at risk by sudden activity and strain on your body, therefore making your weekend sporting activities more enjoyable without any injury.
Expecting to get fit whilst playing once a week, is a bit of a dream = regular Cardiovascular and Aerobic conditioning is important to help prevent injury. Depending on your sport choice, strengthening for sports such as basketball, volley ball with rotator cuff strengthening; quadriceps strengthening for runners and cyclists; and for ball sports such as soccer that involve quick movements, ankle strengthening exercises would be beneficial.
Warm ups are important:
To keep your muscles free of injury and maintain your flexibility , a good warm up applicable to your chosen sport by performing slow stretches, walking or jogging may be enough,; whereas cycling may require a more gentle ride to start with. Just these basic stretches or jogs on the spot will help reduce your risk of injury and improve your overall performance.
It is also important to have a cool down gentle sustained stretch after exercising to help with any small injuries that may have occurred during exercise and help them to heal more quickly.
Do not overtrain:
Exercise should be fun and should not cause you pain to make you feel “good”. Some evidence of exercise is good however, if you push yourself too hard you could incur muscle tears and inflammation. You need to allow your body to recover after a workout and resume exercise after the appropriate balance of training and rest, allow 24 – 48 hours to recover from a strenuous workout. This will vary depending upon the type of exercise undertaken, larger muscles are slower to heal than smaller muscles, movements like skiing, tennis, sprinting and weight training need more time to recover than slower sports like riding a bike, swimming and jogging.
Other Tips To Prevent Sports Injuries:
Footwear – wear footwear applicable for your sport
Sports tape – useful to support vulnerable parts of your body
Use – Mouth guards, safety helmets, knee, elbow, shin pads
Drink – water prior to, during and after the game.
Try – not to exercise, or play sport outdoors in the middle of the day
Keep fit – maintain some exercise, even when your chosen sport is having a break, or do another sport to keep you toned.
Don’t – push yourself too hard, increase gradually your intensity and duration.
Do – your training properly and allow recovery time between sessions
Visit – your Doctor or exercise physiologist for regular check ups
Most of all – Enjoy what you do, you deserve it!