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Preventing Sports Injuries

Exercise is good for the body. And with the correct safety steps, sports injuries can often be prevented. The quality of protective equipment—padding, helmets, shoes, mouth guards—has helped to improve safety in sports. But you can still be at risk of injury. Always contact your healthcare provider before starting any type of physical activity. This is especially important for vigorous types of exercises or sports.

Causes of sport injuries may include:

  • Incorrect or poor training practices

  • Wearing incorrect sporting gear

  • Being in poor health

  • 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

  • Broken bones (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:

  • Create 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 correctly 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. This can reduce 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. Wear shoes that give support and that may correct certain foot problems that can lead to injury.

  • Learn the right methods to play your sport or do strength training

  • Rest when tired. Don't exercise when you are tired or in pain.

  • Always take your time during strength training. Go through the full range of motion with each repetition.

  • If you do have a sports injury, make sure you get as much rehab (rehabilitation) as needed before restarting a strenuous activity.