Primary care doctors agree that playing sports comes with numerous benefits for both the brain and body. As a form of exercise, sport improves cardiovascular function, helps the body manage blood sugar, enhances stamina, muscle strength and coordination and numerous other health benefits. Regular physical activity has also been proven to help relieve stress and significantly boost your mood, focus and memory.
As with any form of rigorous exercise, however, regular and involved sports participation also carries the risk of injury, particularly among adolescent and young adult populations. In light of this, all athletes whatever their age, level of involvement and skill level would benefit from education on how to avert or at least lower this risk.
The good news is that with proper precautions, most sports injuries can be prevented, and your local health professionals are well-positioned to teach you how. When seeking out a trained physiotherapist or foot specialist Singapore residents trust, you would do well to solicit practical advice on reducing, if not eliminating, the risk of injury. To start, you can keep reading for a comprehensive look at sports injury risks, the types of injuries athletes tend to incur most frequently and a few useful prevention tips.
Understanding Sports Injury Risks
Participating in any sport involves at least some risk of injury. As a general rule, the more contact the player has with objects or with other people while participating in the sport, the greater that risk will be. Examples of high-contact sports include competitive cheering, American football, wrestling and other martial arts. Low-contact sports like golf, weightlifting and individual swimming or running events, meanwhile, tend to present a lower risk of injury in comparison.
Forceful contact with the ground, physical objects like balls and poles or the bodies of other players is, however, just one potential cause of sports injuries. Injury is equally likely to arise from poor training practices, improper sporting gear, preexisting health conditions or incorrect warm-up practices before sporting events. Lastly, overtraining and overexertion are especially common causes of injury, particularly among the youth.
Common Sports Injuries
Sports injuries are musculoskeletal the majority of the time, which means they tend to occur when the muscles, bones, joints or tendons experience an excess of stress. Some of the most frequently incurred sports injuries include the following:
Because playing any sport involves using many different muscle groups, often at high intensities and for sustained periods, muscle strains are by far the most common type of sports injury. Strains occur when muscles are stretched too far or made to move in unnatural ways, the stress of which can tear or damage them. The muscles in the quads, hamstrings and groin, for example, all tend to be highly mobile when playing sports and are thus particularly susceptible to strain.
Ligaments, the tissues that connect individual bones, can likewise be pulled or damaged when they’re turned in the wrong ways. Commonly sprained body parts include the ankles, knees, wrists and elbows, all complex joints that tend to be placed under frequent stress during sports activities. Sprains can be more painful and slower to heal than muscle strains, and they may need to be immobilised to facilitate the healing process in some cases. Sprains also tend to weaken the affected ligaments and make them more susceptible to reinjury.
High-impact and high-contact sports can place players at risk of getting cracked or broken bones, particularly in the arms, legs and feet. Ignoring pain and continuing to play through an untreated sprain or strain can also make the bones more vulnerable to fracture. Fractured bones are severely painful and often must be immobilised for weeks to heal properly, and some especially grievous fractures may even need to be corrected through surgery.
Minimising Risk of Injury: Some Helpful Tips
Understanding the nature and causes of most common sports injuries is the first necessary step athletes must take to prevent them. Going forward from there, the following practices can further help reduce the risk of getting hurt:
• Rest periodically. Aim to take at least one day off from training per week and at least one month off per year. Regular rest will allow your body to recover between training sessions and prevent it from overexerting itself.
• Wear appropriate and properly fitted gear for your sport. Ensure that all protective pads, mouthpieces, helmets, face guards and other gear fit you properly and are in good condition. Don’t assume, however, that this protective gear will insulate you from any and all injuries, and do your best to play safe regardless.
• Warm up and cool down properly after every game or training session. Warming up elevates your blood flow and helps loosen up your muscles, reducing the risk of strain while playing. A proper cooldown, meanwhile, will help prepare your body for rest and bring your heart rate back down to a normal level.
• Observe proper technique. If you notice that particular motions or actions are causing you pain or discomfort, you may be performing them incorrectly. Consult with your coach or trainer for advice on how to improve your technique in these cases.
• Do not, under any circumstances, keep playing if you experience any pain.
Whether you’re a pro athlete or a weekend warrior, taking a proactive approach to injury prevention will surely improve your playing experience and allow you to enjoy the health benefits of sport to the fullest. Not only will you be able to keep playing longer, but you’ll also be better equipped to work toward your training goals in safe and healthy ways.