If you’re a sportsperson then you know how euphoric sports can be. The feeling of ‘zoning in’ and enjoying the moment, or the cathartic feeling of gaining a new skill or visibly improving, or even the little successes like improving the form of your basic skills- these are among the many reasons why sports can be very fun and addictive.
However, what is not fun and addictive is receiving an injury. While it truly does come with the territory, nothing can bring you down and devastate you as much as receiving an injury. No one likes to sit on the bench when they’d rather be playing in the field, but it’s one of those things that are inevitable… or is it? Even if you think you know them all it’s still better to reinforce it, so here are some tips to prevent injuries.
While you don’t need to learn how to do a split, it wouldn’t hurt to try. Maybe it will hurt a bit, but the benefits you can gain from it are tremendous. A flexible muscle means a full range of motion, and this means easier swings, higher jumps, and lower propensity for injuries. Not only will you be able to perform better, but you’ll also be hurt less. Now, keep in mind that stretching is best done after exercise. As static stretching before exercise can actually do the opposite and injure you.
Do strength training
There’s the old belief that strength training harms rather than helps. Science has time and again refuted this, and have provided evidence over and over. Basically, strength training corrects any imbalances in the major muscle groups. Especially in region-specific sports (like golf, rowing, tennis, etc), there’s the tendency to overwork one part of the body and neglect the rest. As humans, we use our whole body every time we move, so disregarding the opposite region of commonly-used body parts can lead to injuries. Another benefit of strength training is that it ‘trains’ the bones, muscles, and joints, ensuring that the body can withstand load or pressure.
Wear a mouthguard
Any sport, absolutely any sport, carries the potential of getting hit in the face. In the more contact-heavy sports, it’s accepted and expected. However, in no-to-low-contact sports, there’s this assumption that you don’t need to protect yourself as much. And if you’ve ever done any sport low-contact sport, you’d know this is false. There is that slight chance of getting hit in the mouth, and even that slight chance needs to be respected. Wear a mouthguard. It won’t break the bank, and it’ll save you money down the line. You wouldn’t want to suddenly need emergency dental care now, would you?
Take a break
It’s hard. Taking a break is definitely hard. Especially if you’ve just learned a new skill, or is looking forward to playing a game with your friends. But taking a break can mean the difference between a minor injury that will heal in a week to a major injury that requires surgery. As sportspeople, we tend to overlook pains and think that it’s normal. Soreness here and there is probably safe, but it’s best to listen to your body and know when to take a break. This gives your body time to heal, especially if you’ve been training non-stop for months on end. This also gives your mind time to process all those new skills and movements you’ve trained. Returning from a break is a great feeling too, as you feel refreshed and eager to get back to doing the sport you love.
Before you say “Duh, I know that”, ask yourself if you consciously remind yourself to hydrate while doing sports. Most just drink water when their thirst becomes unbearable, as the excitement and adrenaline of sports can often mask tiredness and thirst. This, however, leads to a host of potential problems. You’re at risk of overheating because your body needs fluids to regulate temperature, you’re also hampering your performance since your blood volume will be reduced and won’t be able to deliver as much oxygen your muscles require. The next time you go out to exercise, make it a conscious effort to hydrate in between sets. Better safe than sorry.
Listen to your body
Don’t fall for the ill advice of ‘keep doing it’. The best injury prevention tip you’ll ever receive is to listen to your body. In most cases, our body tells us whenever we don’t feel good, we just ignore it out of sheer excitement to do sports. And when that happens, it’s better to stop and listen to your body. After all, you know your body the best.