Tips for Preventing Sports-Related Injuries

Sports injuries generally occur for two different reasons: trauma and overuse,” says Dr. Andrew Cosgarea, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine expert. “And while traumatic sports injuries are usually obvious, dramatic scenes, like when we see a player fall down clutching their knee,” continues Cosgarea, who is also the head team physician for Johns Hopkins University Department of Athletics, “overuse injuries are actually more common.”

Sports injury prevention

Overuse injuries often occur when the body is pushed past its current physical limits or level of conditioning — but poor technique and training errors, such as running excessive distances or performing inadequate warm-ups, frequently contribute. To help keep you or your young athlete from experiencing a sports-related injury, Cosgarea provides the following prevention tips:

Set realistic goals

“I am a strong advocate for setting goals and working hard to achieve them,” Cosgarea says, “but it is crucial that our goals are realistic, achievable and sustainable.” Whether your goal is to swim more laps, lift a certain amount of weight or run a specific distance, set an obtainable goal and gradually work to improve.

Plan and prepare

If you plan to begin exercising regularly or want to begin a new program, you should meet with your primary care provider first and discuss your options. Also, take the time to learn the proper techniques required for your sport or program. Working with a personal trainer or signing up for a class are often safe and enjoyable ways to start a new activity, Cosgarea suggests.

Warm up and cool down

It is important to warm up before physical activity because research has shown that a heated muscle is less likely to be strained. To accomplish this, Cosgarea recommends some light walking or jogging before you start your exercise and then again afterward to help your muscles cool down slowly. Another important way to prevent injury is to increase your flexibility. This can be done by stretching before and after a workout, Cosgarea suggests, but it is best to do so once the body is already warm.


Take your time

Don’t push yourself too hard too fast. Getting in shape or learning a new sport takes time. “We need to allow for adequate time to gradually increase training levels so that our bodies have time to adjust to the stresses on our bones, joints and muscles,” Cosgarea says. For instance, when running, increase mileage gradually and give yourself plenty of time to recover between workouts.


Listen to your body

Adjust your activities if your body is showing signs of too much stress. “While a mild and short-lived muscle ache is generally considered ‘good pain,’ pain in your joints is not normal and is a sign that you should cut back,” Cosgarea warns.

Causes of sport injuries may include:

  • Improper or poor training practices
  • Wearing improper sporting gear
  • Being in poor health condition
  • Incorrect warm-up or stretching practices before a sporting event or exercise
  • Common sports injuries include:
  • Sprains and strains
  • Joint injuries (knee, shoulder, ankle)
  • Muscle injuries
  • Dislocations
  • Fractures
  • Achilles tendon injuries
  • Pain along the shin bone

How can I prevent a sports injury?

The following are some basic steps to prevent a sports injury:
  • Develop a fitness plan that includes cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility. This will help decrease your chance of injury.
  • Alternate exercising different muscle groups and exercise every other day.
  • Cool down properly after exercise or sports. It should take 2 times as long as your warm-ups.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water to prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
  • Stretching exercises can improve the ability of muscles to contract and perform, reducing the risk for injury. Each stretch should start slowly until you reach a point of muscle tension. Stretching should not be painful. Aim to hold each stretch for up to 20 seconds.
  • Use the right equipment or gear and wear shoes that provide support and that may correct certain foot problems that can lead to injury.
  • Learn the right techniques to play your sport.
  • Rest when tired. Avoid exercise when you are tired or in pain.
  • Always take your time during strength training and go through the full range of motion with each repetition.
  • If you do sustain a sports injury, make sure you participate in adequate rehabilitation before resuming strenuous activity.
Dr Rohit Bhaskar, Physio
Dr Rohit Bhaskar, Physio Dr. Rohit Bhaskar, Physio is Founder of Bhaskar Health and Physiotherapy and is also a consulting physiotherapist. He completed his Graduation in Physiotherapy from Uttar Pradesh University of Medical Sciences. His clinical interests are in Chest Physiotherapy, stroke rehab, parkinson’s and head injury rehab. Bhaskar Health is dedicated to readers, doctors, physiotherapists, nurses, paramedics, pharmacists and other healthcare professionals. Bhaskar Health audience is the reason I feel so passionate about this project, so thanks for reading and sharing Bhaskar Health.

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