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Preventing sports injury

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Sports injury PHOTO: planet_fox / Pixabay

Playing a sport is such a great way to keep your body fit and healthy. But we all know that with sports activity always comes the huge risk of some form of injury to the body. These sports injuries may be acute or chronic in nature and may even arise on account of trauma or simply from overuse of distinct muscle groups. For example, tennis players constantly hitting backhands might develop lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow). Lateral epicondylitis is an overuse injury of the musculoskeletal system leading to a form of tendinitis resulting in pain in the outer region of the elbow. While the repetitive motion when hitting balls with the backhand technique causes tennis elbow, the injury can also manifest in anyone involved in an activity requiring repetitive use of the elbow such as carpentry work, meat cutting, and painting.

Needless to say, there is a vast and wide range of possible injury associated with sports. However, here are a few common ones:

Ankle sprains:
This very common injury occurs with movements that lead to rotation or inversion of the ankle. Sprains can cause the supportive ligaments of the ankle to overstretch or even tear. The injury may happen while playing any sport in which there is an increased amount of running and jumping involved such as football.

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Tibial stress syndrome (Shin splints):
This is another overuse injury that can arise when you overwork some of the muscles and ligaments in the tibia during vigorous running activity. It occurs frequently in long-distance runners and they experience sharp pain along the tibia bone in the frontal region of the lower legs.

Muscle strain (e.g. lumbar strain):
Sports that incorporate a lot of pushing and pulling motions may lead to a musculoskeletal strain of the lower back region. For example, if you are a weight lifter or play American football then these activities tend to strain the muscles of the back and can lead to chronic problems with low back pain.

Knee injury (e.g.) patellofemoral pain syndrome aka “runners knee”:
This pain syndrome of the knee occurs with overuse when involved in sports like bicycling, running, and climbing. It’s a very common cause of anterior knee pain in athletes and it has a tendency to cause ongoing bothersome pain and irritation right behind the kneecap.

Concussion (Mild traumatic brain injury/ MTBI):
A concussion is a brain injury that temporarily impairs regular brain functioning. When one gets hit in the head as seen in contact sports like boxing, the injury experienced in the brain can lead to symptoms of headache, dizziness, drowsiness, confusion, and transient loss of consciousness. Most people will heal post-concussion, but such repeated brain injury can result in impaired brain functioning in the future. Some research has found an increased likelihood of some contact sport players with repeated hits to the head potentially developing a condition later in life known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Some of these injuries can easily be avoided. The key is to take serious precaution and utilize certain strategies to lower the risk of a future injury. Here are a few tips that you should always keep in mind when playing any sport:

Know your limits: Sometimes sports injuries ensue when one is a bit too over ambitious and wants to demonstrate “superhero” moves while playing the sport. Don’t overexert yourself to a dangerous point in which you engage in certain moves that have the high potential to harm you. Your body typically gives you signs in regard to how far you can physically push yourself.

(2) Maintain good form and proper technique: If the sport requires a certain technique while playing, stick to it and remain consistent. Whether you play tennis, wrestling, or gymnastics, there is a specific technique that goes along with every sport. If you diverge from that technique, then it can really set you up for repeated injury.

(3) Wear supportive footwear: Wearing inappropriate footwear when you play any sport can be a huge detriment and risk when it comes to sports injuries. One way to protect yourself from common strains, sprains, and fractures is to ensure that you have invested in athletic footwear that supports you properly while in action.

(4) Stay Hydrated: Hydration is always important! Remember your athletic performance is highly compromised when in a state of dehydration. No matter the type of sports you play, proper hydration is crucial for the body to function optimally.

(5) Make stretching a priority: Stretch prior to and after any sports activity. This can help enhance flexibility, range of motion, and circulation. Plus, it also lowers the risk of injury.

(6) Obtain a physical exam before starting a new sport: This tip is often overlooked by many, but it’s important to know whether you are in good health before partaking in any new sports activity. There are certain underlying medical conditions that may preclude one from playing high-intensity sports. Nonetheless, a good bill of health is essential.

Playing your favourite sports should always be fun and rewarding! Just remember there are basic prevention strategies to avoid injuries and continue engaging in all the sports you love.

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