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How to prevent serious sports injuries

by Alexander Cole March 22, 2016
How to prevent serious sports injuries

A few basic tips on how to keep your body intact and in shape as an athlete

If you’re an athlete, you are probably well aware of the different types of injuries you can suffer while playing sports. These injuries can range from muscle tears, broken bones and even concussions. While these injuries are unpredictable, there are various precautions an athlete can take in order to reduce the risk of bodily harm while participating in sports.

Graphic by Florence Yee.

Graphic by Florence Yee.

As a goalie in hockey, one of the most valuable pieces of advice that I learned was to always stretch and warm up before practices and games. Stretching is something every athlete should be doing no matter what sport they are playing. According to SportsMedicine, stretching mixed with warm up activities are one of the most effective ways to reduce injury, specifically muscle tears and cramps. This is because your muscles become looser and your range of motion becomes increased after having warmed up.

Take a Break

Furthermore, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (ADA), it is always important to take breaks as it allows your muscles to relax and not get overworked. Rest periods should also be coupled with hydration. Athletes who are competing or exercising in hot environments are susceptible to heat illnesses and staying hydrated is the best way to combat that. According to ABC, National Football League player Korey Stringer died of heat stroke during a practice. It just goes to show how important keeping cool is.

Protect your Teeth

Another thing to keep in mind, is when playing sports such as hockey, football or basketball, it is always safer to wear a mouthguard. While mouthguards don’t completely protect you from concussions, they are able to reduce the risk of getting one. According to ScienceDaily, mouthguards are able to reduce the risk of suffering a concussion because they absorb the shock of an impact and stabilize both the head and the neck. It is also recommended to get custom made mouthguards from your dentist, as these form to your teeth better than a store-bought mouthguard would.

Keep your Head Up

One way to prevent concussions and other serious injuries is by keeping your head up. According to the National Athletic Trainers Association hitting someone, or being hit, with your head down can lead to concussions and in some cases paralysis, as the impact can have severe impact on your spinal cord. This tip is especially useful for those who play hockey and football, two heavy contact sports.

Remember your Lessons

When playing any sport, it is essential to perform movements the way they are supposed to be done. While many different sports have different actions, according to the ADA, failure to use the proper techniques when playing a sport can result in serious injury.

For example, football players and hockey players should hit the way they are taught to by their coaches. The same would apply to a sport like soccer where slide-tackling is a major component to the game. It is always important to slide-tackle the proper way, or you could risk injuring yourself or another player.

While these tips can’t completely eliminate the risk of injury, they can significantly lower that risk. Just keep these tips in mind the next time you go out and play a sport and remember to have fun.

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