It is well documented that exercising and playing sports regularly has countless health benefits but unfortunately as with most things in life there are always risks involved and in this case it is the risk of injuries. Speak to any athlete and they will be able to reel off at least one injury or another ranging from minor sprains to more serious tears or even broken bones.

Fortunately for many of us minor sports injuries can be taken care of at home and do not require professional attention.  The actual length of time before you are able to return to normal activity after such an injury is dependent on the injury itself and the person’s medical history.  For example, a recurring injury may take longer to heal than a new type of injury and could be the difference between a few days recuperation as opposed to a week or so. Obviously if pain persists or increases over time or extreme swelling is present it is time to seek professional medical advice.

So What Is the Best Method for Avoiding Injuries?

Prevention. Sounds a little too obvious doesn’t it? But prevention as with most medical issues is ultimately better than cure. So how do you go about preventing an injury? Because let’s face it, it’s not as if you are ‘trying’ to injure yourself is it?

Overuse is a huge factor.  Repeating the same type of movement over and over again, day in, day out, month in month out will ultimately lead to injury. For instance a study from the Radiological Society of North America found that young baseball pitchers had a higher risk of an overuse injury which increased the likelihood of further problems such as torn rotator cuffs.

Researchers studied 2,372 pitchers who ranged in ages from 15 to 25 years of age. Those most at risk for shoulder injuries were those who threw more than 100 pitches per week. Study author Johannes Roedl reports “More and more kids are entering sports earlier in life and are overtraining.  It is important to limit stress to the growing bones to allow them to develop normally.”

Warming up is essential before you undertake any form of activity, so many people miss this vital step to preparing their body for the activity they are about to perform.  We are often too impatient and want to get on with the ‘main’ activity or sport not realizing that the warm up will assist, not only, with performance levels and ultimately end results, but also help prevent injury. A focused cool down is just as important.

Increasing intensity gradually is also an important step, not going full out at the start and abstaining from excess is another major step in the prevention of injuries.

Overtaxing your body day in day out is a body begging for an injury. Alternating your more rigorous workouts with more leisurely ones avoids overtaxing the body.

Correct technique is not only vital to results but essential for prevention as well as using safe and good equipment and fitting yourself out with correct shoes and attire to match the activity.

MIND/BODY! We hear this term continually these days, but it is probably your biggest compass to the prevention of injury. Listen to your body, understand what feels normal and what doesn’t. You are the only one who can ultimately make a decision for yourself.  By all means listen to your coach or trainer for advice, knowledge, motivation and correct technique but NEVER let them make a decision for you.

I am sure we have all heard the phrase “No Pain, No Gain.”  So my personal thoughts on that saying? I am not sure I can print it!!!! But needless to say I do not agree. Yes you must push to overload to gain improvement, so definitely expect to feel discomfort but never pain. Pain is your body telling you something is not right it is a warning and you should take notice.

As I said, prevention is always better than cure!