Whether you play sports for a living, for fitness or just for fun, the last thing you want is to be forced to take time off due to injury. At best, sports injuries are inconvenient to deal with, however temporarily. At worst, they can permanently compromise your ability to play the game, your overall physical condition and your general quality of life.
The risk of injury is an inevitable part of playing any sport, but research from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons suggests that taking appropriate preventive measures can reduce injury rates for athletes by up to 25%. The good thing is that many effective injury prevention strategies are also simple steps that anyone seeking to play a sport seriously would do well to follow. Working with licensed trainers and physiotherapists can likewise help athletes learn the best ways to protect themselves, build their strength and ultimately play better.
Athletes in search of a physio clinic Singapore residents recommend would also do well to familiarise themselves with some basic tactics for reducing injury risk. The following are just some things you can do proactively to keep yourself from getting hurt:
Get in Good Physical Shape
One of the mistakes many people taking up new sports frequently make is expecting the sport itself to get them into shape. Rather, you should work to be the inappropriate physical condition for your sport before you play. This means getting regular exercise and conditioning your body gradually for higher levels of activity. Training for your sport is an even bigger must for weekend warriors, who have less time to prioritize their physical fitness and are therefore at greater risk of injury.
Many professional athletes follow structured training and conditioning regimens that are tailored specifically for their sport. Consider requesting a specialized exercise menu from your trainer or coach if you don’t already use one, whether or not you play at a highly competitive level.
Many people think that achieving peak performance involves making as much time for training as possible, but the converse is true. Sports injuries frequently arise from overexertion, occurring as a result of the excessive stress that players place on their bodies. It’s essential for any athlete, no matter their sport or skill level, to actively make time for rest as part of their training regimen. Regular rest can not only prevent overuse injuries and alleviate fatigue, but also make you stronger in the long run.
As a rule, it’s good to take at least one day off a week from training to let your body recover. Try to aim for at least a month’s worth of total rest days for every year you play your sport. Above all, listen to your body and reduce your activity levels if you notice any unusual pain or discomfort in your muscles or joints. These seemingly minor aches and pains may be signs of too much stress and can eventually worsen into full-blown injuries if you don’t take time off.
Warm-Up and Cool Down
Properly warmed-up muscles are more flexible and therefore less susceptible to being strained or torn. Warm-up adequately with a few minutes of walking or light stretching before every game or training session. Better yet, ask your coach or physio to help you devise a suitable warm-up routine for your sport, and be sure to follow it consistently.
Similarly, it’s necessary to cool down after training to normalize your heart rate and blood pressure. A light cooldown will help ready you for rest both mentally and physically, so don’t skip it even on your laziest days.
Observe Proper Technique
Learning and executing your sport’s techniques correctly doesn’t just improve your performance, but it’s also one of the surest ways to keep from hurting yourself, especially during the playing season. Don’t hesitate to ask your coach, trainer or physiotherapist for advice on your form and movement, especially if you notice that particular techniques are difficult or uncomfortable for you to perform. They’ll be well-equipped with the knowledge to advise you on how to play most safely and efficiently.
Play by the Rules
Likewise, the rules of your sport exist in large part to keep things safe for all competitors. This is especially important for contact sports, as higher contact naturally also increases injury risk. Avoid reckless or illicit behavior that might injure you or other players. Likewise, push for fair and consistent rule enforcement by the judges, umpires or referees who oversee your games.
Gear Up Properly
Some sports will require you to wear protective gear such as elbow and knee pads, helmets, mouth guards, and other safety equipment. Don’t assume that being skilled at your sport means you can ditch these. Instead, consider them necessities for athletes of any level, and make it a point never to play without your gear. Do also make sure that your gear fits you well and is in good condition as this will afford you the highest level of protection possible. Whatever your sport, adhering diligently to fundamental safety measures and never taking them for granted are tried-and-tested ways to minimize the risk of injury. Being proactive about your safety, as well as that of your teammates and competitors, will help you ensure that you can keep playing the game you love for as long as possible.