A sports injury is any injury sustained while exercising or playing any type of sport. They can occur indoors or outdoors. Sprains, strains, dislocations, and fractures are some of the most common types of sports injuries.
In most cases, the doctor will recommend trying the RICE protocol first. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. A more detailed explanation goes as follows:
Rest – The patient should rest and avoid any activity that could make their injury worse.
Ice – The patient should use ice packs to reduce swelling and pain. They should not apply the ice pack directly to the skin but wrap it in something like a towel or cloth.
Compression – Compression also helps reduce swelling. The patient can use splints, air casts, or elastic wraps to compress the affected area.
Elevation – The patient should keep the injured part above their heart to reduce pain and swelling.
Preventing a Sports Injury
There are ways to reduce the chances of suffering a sports injury. Most sports injuries are caused by poor training or undiagnosed physical problems. Both of these often trip up would-be athletes early on. About 60 percent of the people who begin an exercise regimen hurt themselves within the first six weeks.
One straightforward way of preventing a sports injury would, therefore, be to undertake appropriate training. For example, somebody who has just joined a gym should ask one of the trainers to teach them how to use the equipment so they will know how to use it correctly and safely. The trainer should also help their client determine their physical limits so that they don’t hurt themselves by lifting overly heavy weights or trying to run too fast on the treadmill. They should also advise the athlete on how to track their progress so they will know when they can safely increase their level of exercise. Similarly, organizations like swim clubs or tennis clubs often provide lessons. A new member should take those lessons to learn the proper techniques.
The athlete should also make sure they have the appropriate gear for their chosen sport. They should have suitable shoes that fit and are in good condition. Any safety gear like knee pads should also fit the athlete and be in good condition.
It’s also recommended to perform stretches and other warm-up exercises before starting a workout and cool-down exercises at the end of the workout. Warm-up exercises can reduce injury by increasing flexibility, while cool-down exercises help the body return to its pre-exercise state gradually and safely.
Overworking a muscle group can often lead to injury. The athlete should also vary their exercises so they are not working on the same muscle group or body part two days running.
The athlete should also follow a healthy and nutritious diet. They should, however, avoid exercising right after a big meal. They should also avoid playing or exercising if they are injured or tired.
What Does a Sports Physical Involve?
Another way to prevent a sports injury is to make sure you are fit to play in the first place. That means undergoing a sports physical.
A sports physical, more formally known as a “pre-participation physical examination,” is a medical exam done to make certain that the aspiring athlete is physically able to play their chosen sport safely. A sports physical typically has several components.
During the first component, the doctor will take the athlete’s vitals, like their height, weight, blood pressure, and so on. If the athlete is a child or teenager, the doctor will ask about their growth rate, for growth spurts and the resultant changes in size can put extra stress on bones, muscles, and joints and thus increase the risk of injury.
Another part is an eye exam. The doctor will determine if the athlete needs corrective lenses or an updated prescription. They will also check for any eye problems, especially if the athlete is an older adult or has a family history of eye trouble.
During the next part of the sports physical, the doctor will go over the patient’s medical history. They will want to know if the athlete is currently taking any medications or if they have had any recent surgeries. They will also ask if the patient has any conditions like asthma that will require watching.
Yet another part of the sports physical is the fitness check. This will include a thorough physical exam, and the doctor will also test the athlete’s strength, flexibility, posture, and joint functioning. During the fitness check, the doctor will be watching for signs of problems. If they see something, they will advise the athlete of the problem and advise them on how to prevent injury. Somebody with a trick ankle, for example, may need to wear special shoes to better support and protect it.
At the end of the physical, the doctor will tell the athlete of their findings and give them advice on how to improve their health. The results of a sports physical are usually valid for about a year.
How Should Somebody Choose Athletic Shoes?
Any athlete will need shoes that fit properly and give them enough support and flexibility so they can safely play. The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) advises replacing shoes after 300 hours of exercise or 300 to 500 miles of running, for the cushioning material in the shoe will have worn out. AOFAS also recommends buying the shoes from a specialty store, for they will have a larger selection of athletic shoes than a regular shoe store, and they will also have a knowledgeable staff that can give advice on which shoes would be most appropriate.
When shopping, you should wear the same type of sock that you would wear while playing your sport, and it’s also best to go shopping in the afternoon or after a workout. Your feet will be largest then. Even if you know your size, have your feet measured to ensure the best possible fit. If one foot is larger than the other, choose shoes that fit the bigger foot.
You should be able to wiggle all of your toes easily while wearing the shoe. On the other hand, the heel should fit snugly in the shoe and not slip or slide. The shoe should be comfortable as soon as you try it on; there should not be any need to break it in. Similarly, the shoe should be comfortable when you take a few steps.
If you play a given sport at least three times a week, you should consider getting a shoe designed for that sport. Different sports shoes will have different features. For example, a runner should get a lightweight shoe with cushioning that acts as a shock absorber and thus help prevent injuries like stress fractures or shin splints. People who play “court sports” like tennis or basketball need shoes with a sturdy sole.
What is an Overuse Injury?
An overuse injury is any type of injury caused by repetitive movements. Stress fractures and tendonitis are examples of overuse injuries. Overuse injuries are generally caused by poor technique or training errors.
In golf, for example, the athlete uses the same joints, muscles, and tendons when swinging their golf club. If they swing their club too many times or do so incorrectly, they will put stress on those parts. Poor form while swinging a golf club can also lead to low back pain.
A golfer should thus use the proper form and technique when playing or practicing golf. They should also perform a variety of exercises to strengthen those muscles most prone to overuse injuries. Pilates, yoga, and rowing can all help strengthen back muscles. Similarly, a golfer should consider wrist curls to reduce their chances of developing “golfer’s elbow.”
How Do Warm-Ups and Cool-Downs Prevent Injury?
During a warm-up or cool-down, the athlete will often perform their chosen activity at a reduced intensity. For example, a runner might walk briskly for five or ten minutes before and after a run.
A warm-up prepares the body for aerobic activity. It causes the blood vessels to dilate so they can carry more blood more efficiently, and that blood will carry oxygen throughout the body. A warm-up reduces stress on the heart by gradually increasing the heart rate. The body’s temperature will increase during the warm-up, and that heat will make the muscles more flexible and less prone to soreness. Stretching during a warm-up eases the stress on the tendons and joints, and it also increases the body’s range of motion.
A cool-down enables the body to gradually decrease its temperature and heart rate back to normal. Suddenly stopping an exercise, by contrast, can make the athlete feel light-headed or sick. They may even pass out. Stretching during a cool-down will reduce the accumulation of lactic acid and thus prevent stiffness and cramps.
What are the Rules About Exercise and Eating?
Generally speaking, it is not a good idea to engage in strenuous exercise right after eating a large meal, for it can lead to vomiting, hiccups, or even acid reflux. Most athletes do better if they exercise first and then eat. Eating after a work-out can actually reduce muscle damage and help the body recover. However, it all depends on the unique case.
If the athlete does eat before exercising, they should keep the portions small and choose a food based on the type of exercise they are doing. For example, somebody who is strength training needs protein, so they should consider having something like a cup of yogurt. Swimmers need both carbohydrates and protein and may want something like a bagel thin with cheese. Runners need carbohydrates and should thus consider things like granola bars or bananas.
Athletes should keep themselves hydrated by drinking cool water before, during, and after their workout or game. They shouldn’t wait until they are thirsty to drink either, for thirst is not a reliable indicator of need.
Get More Information
Talk to the professionals at Olsen Orthopedics to learn more about how to prevent a sports injury. If you are already dealing with a sports injury, our team in Midwest City wants to help with this as well. Contact our office today to book an appointment and get started.