No matter what sport you play or training you undertake, there is always the possibility for an injury to occur. From pulling a hamstring to spraining your ankle, even relatively minor injuries can cause great discomfort and inconvenience, and take you out of action for a long time. However, there are several simple ways you can help prevent sports injuries from occurring.
Common types of sports injuries
Generally, the most common injuries seen by physio’s are preventable – such as muscular injuries, ligament sprains and tendon strains, etc. All of which can be greatly avoided with the correct preparation and care while training, playing and competing. While most injuries are preventable, it is important to note that not all are – even with the correct preparation injuries can still occur.
To reduce your chance of injury, ideally your body should be in peak physical condition. However, in the real world, this is not often going to be the case. You may be starting out with a new sport, or training, or recovering from injury, or just coping with a long-term existing injury or health condition. In these cases, the warm-up is even more important.
Before you take part in any exercise, sport or physically demanding activity, it is extremely important to properly warm up. Participating in sport places significant stress on the muscles and joints in the body, and they need be ‘prepared’ for the rigour that they are going to be asked to endure. Trying to train or compete with ‘cold’ muscles can shock them from a state of relaxation to unexpected movement, and this is when injuries occur.
A warm-up ensures that your muscles are gently stretched and ready for strenuous activity, and that your body is prepared for action. Your muscles are provided with an increased flow of oxygenated blood to carry out any exercise, alongside slowly raising your heart rate to an elevated level, ready for your body to perform. A warm-up does not need to take too long; a 5-10 minute period of light aerobic work and dynamic stretching is enough.
- How to warm up before exercising (external link to NHS website).
A cool-down period is equally important in decreasing your chance of injuries. The theory of a cool down after a match or an event, is to gradually bring the body back to its natural resting levels and aid with the removal of waste products from your muscles.
Know your Body
This last point is going to sound obvious, but it is unfortunately forgotten most of the time. Our bodies are incredibly smart at telling us when something is wrong. The most recognisable sign that something is wrong with our body, or we are pushing too far, is pain. For this reason, it is important that you are ‘in-touch’ with your body to correctly identify when it is time to push-less or stop for a short amount of time.
What do you do if you are injured?
Unfortunately, even with significant preparation and warm-up, it may be impossible to prevent all sports injuries. However, most injuries are easily treated. Many muscular/joint injuries can be treated with the simple combination of ice, compression, elevation and plenty of rest. However, while this simple method often works for less serious injuries, sometimes it is worth visiting a professional physiotherapist or osteopath to gain their opinion, advice or to embark on a treatment or rehabilitation plan.
Many people may be put off from visiting a professional physical therapist due to time constraints within their working lives and the costs associated with treatment. However, if you are someone who works within the City of London, the Lloyd’s Wellbeing Centre offers short 30-minute appointment slots to fit in with your busy working day. The Lloyd’s Wellbeing Centre also works with all major private medical insurance providers, such as Bupa and AXA healthcare, so your treatments can be billed directly to your insurance company.