Injuries and accidents do happen when you’re playing sport, and not all can be prevented. However, you can reduce your risk of suffering from an injury by following these essential conditioning and safety strategies for exercise.
- Get in proper shape before you play a sport. Don’t launch yourself into a sport expecting it to make you fit – you need to follow a conditioning program specifically designed for your sport. Don’t do too much too soon – start gently and increase the amount of time you play or exercise.
- Do not train or play every single day. If you have no rest days your body does not have a chance to recover – rest days give the muscles and the connective tissues time to rejuvenate and to repair.
- Don’t train or turn up to play when you are in pain or overly tired. You are more at risk of injury from overuse of the muscles and also making mistakes – make sure you are well rested and don’t push yourself through the pain.
- Always complete a proper warm-up. Jog for a few minutes, then move your body and stretch specific muscles. Ask your coach which stretches are best for your sport.
- Wear properly fitting shoes that support you and offer good shock absorption.
- Make sure you are playing the game using proper form. Using good form reduces the risk of injuries from overuse.
- Always wear the safety gear you need to keep yourself safe when playing a sport. You may need a helmet, a mouth guard, or goggles. Check with a professional to make sure you are well protected.
- If you feel pain or discomfort, stop exercising or playing. It is best to sit out of one game than make the injury worse and lose your place in the team.
In particular, you should see a doctor if the injury causes severe pain or swelling, if you cannot put any weight on the injury, or if the joint feels unstable. If you don’t have any severe pain or signs of serious injury then you can usually treat the injury at home with RICE – rest, ice, compression, and elevation. However, remember that most injuries occur in people with a previous history of injury that hasn’t been properly rehabilitated. Make sure that you have your injury seen by a professional in order to avoid chronic problems developing.