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Top Tips for Avoiding Sports Injuries

sports medicine doctor helping patient

How to Maintain a Healthy Body While Being Active

The great thing about playing competitive sports is that it’s exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise. There is something about putting physical activity into terms of points or goals that allows a person to push harder and longer.

Half the reason why anyone hires a personal trainer is so that they are motivated and held accountable by a third-party. Competitive sports are no different in that regard. During a game, you are motivated by your teammates and your opponents to perform at your highest level so that you can win. Not only do you have to be proficient in the particular game that you’re playing, but you also have to have the stamina to keep up with everyone else. The more you play the more endurance you’re going to build.

As you’d probably imagine, playing competitive sports can lead to a lot of different injuries. Here at Mid-America orthopedics, most sports-related injuries are due to one of the following.

  1. Overuse injury: This is caused by putting repetitive strain or duress on a certain joint, ligament, or muscle group. For instance, you can develop a knee injury from running and jumping if you play a lot of basketball. Tennis elbow is another common injury that occurs from repetitive motion.
  2. Trauma injury: This is a sudden injury, such as a broken bone, torn ACL, or dislocated shoulder. Trauma injuries are abrupt, and will instantly put a person out of commission. In sports, you’ll often hear the phrasing “landed wrong” or “took a bad hit” to initially describe a trauma injury.

Regardless of whether your injury is from overuse or sudden trauma, you should seek out an orthopedic doctor to evaluate your condition. Orthopedics specializes in pain management that’s related to sports injury – not only for professional athletes – but for recreational players as well. In fact, recreational players are the majority of the athletes that orthopedic doctors treat.

Of course, the best way to handle a sports injury is to not get one in the first place. Try to follow the five guidelines below to ensure that you remain healthy during competitive play.

Tip #1 – Ease into Competition

Your body isn’t a high-performance vehicle that’s built to go 0 to 60 in under five seconds. The big mistake that a lot of people make with playing sports is that they do too much too soon. If you have been inactive for several months (or years), then playing basketball or some other high impact sport is going to be a shock to your body. You may be able to handle 30 to 60 minutes of play, but anything after that is going to push your body to its threshold. Push things too far and you may end up with an injury. The best way to avoid injury is to start small and ease back into high level competitive play.

Tip #2 – Prep Your Body for Competition

Avoiding injury out on the court or field involves a lot of body preparation. “Practice makes perfect,” the saying goes. If you plan on playing at any competitive level, you should be practicing on your own to prepare your body for those games. In tennis, for instance, many players practice hitting using a wall to get their swing technique down and build their endurance. In the spirit of preparation, you should also be eating a proper diet and getting plenty of fluids so that you can remain hydrated.

Tip #3 – Warm Up Before Play and Cool Down After

Another big mistake that can lead to injury is going into a game completely cold. Take at least 15 to 20 minutes to warm up beforehand. Do a brisk jog, stretch, and take some practice repetitions (shots, swings, etc.) so that you can ease your body into a competitive state.

Once competitive play is over, do another walking session along with some stretching to transition your body to rest. Not doing so can lead to tightness, stiff muscles, or aches.

Tip #4 – Be Consistent

If you’re going to play competitive sports, try to play on a consistent basis. Treat sports the same way you’d treat traditional exercise. You should try to play at least two to three times per week so that your body can get accustomed to competition. Playing sporadically with long breaks in between won’t allow your body to build up endurance, which can lead to injury.

Tip #5 – Don’t Push Yourself Too Hard

It can be easy to get caught up in the spirit of competitive play. So much so that you push your body further than it wants to go. If you feel that your body is reaching the end of its proverbial rope, stop and listen to it. A lot of injuries occur because people try to “dig deep” and press on with an activity that their body is not equipped to handle.

Muscle aches and feeling out of breath is totally normal during competitive play. If you notice that your pain is located in the joints, that is your body telling you to cease activity in that part of the body. Don’t push any further. If you do, it can lead to a serious injury.

Contact the Team at Mid-America Orthopedics for Sports-Related Injuries

Whether you are a professional athlete or someone who enjoys playing the occasional pick-up game, everyone is susceptible to injury. By following our five tips, you can reduce the likelihood that you’ll get injured. However, in the event that you do experience joint pain, a tear, or other sports-related injury such as tennis elbow, you can contact the team at Mid-America Orthopedics to help you out.

Our team of orthopedic doctors have decades of combined experience evaluating patients who have suffered an injury from playing competitive sports at all levels. Once they have properly evaluated your injury, they can put you on a treatment plan that will include pain management and physical therapy, if you require it. Additionally, we have orthopedic surgeons on staff for those who have suffered traumatic sports-related injuries such as ACL and meniscal tears.

Whatever your injury is, the team at Mid-America Orthopedics can identify the root cause of it and put you on a path to recovery. Take the first step towards pain relief today by booking an examination with Mid-America Orthopedics.

For the convenience of our patients, we can typically schedule same-day or next-day appointments.