Spring is finally here, and with it comes a new and exciting season of outdoor activities! As soon as the first hint of spring arrives, we want to head outside to play golf, tennis, go for a walk or maybe enjoy a bike ride. Jumping into a new fitness routine too hard or too fast, however, can quickly result in injury if you're not careful. Stay safe and reduce your risk of injury while getting in shape this spring by following these tips for sports injury prevention:
Consult a Physician
Before you begin a new sport or jump back into an old one, visit your family physician. With a visit to your doctor, you can find out if old injuries have properly healed and/or ensure old injuries do not become chronic problems.
If it has been some time since participating in an activity, slowly ease into it to reduce the risk of an injury. Light exercise like leisurely walking can help build stamina. Gradually increase the intensity level before you actively jump into a new activity.
Warm Up & Stretch
Warming up and stretching go hand in hand, but it is important to remember that they are different from one another. Sports injuries are most commonly caused by improper warm ups. Warm up with a low-level activity like jump rope or jumping jacks before you stretch, then stretch to improve blood circulation and increase flexibility, and continue to raise muscle temperatures after a warm up.
Use Proper Techniques & Take Breaks
Many sports require the use of different techniques. Learn the correct technique that is associated with a sport to lessen the risk of sports-related injuries to tendons, bones, and muscles. It's also important to rest during physical activities, whether it is a leisurely activity, practice or a game.
Play Safe & Hydrate
When you participate in different sports or activities, it's important to know the rules to help prevent injuries from occurring. In addition, be sure to keep the body hydrated, which allows the heart to pump blood easily and helps the muscles work more efficiently. As temperatures rise, it's extremely important to drink plenty of water. Someone who sweats heavily requires more fluid than someone who does not perspire as heavily.
Take Time Off & Don't Play if You Are Injured
Give yourself at least 1 or 2 days a week to take a break from your sport or activity, and give your muscles a chance to repair themselves. Recovery time is crucial and, without rest, people are at risk for repetitive or chronic injury. It may be difficult, but do not continue to participate in sports or activities if you have sustained an injury. It is not safe to "play through the pain" and could result in a more severe injury or a chronic problem. Allow the injury time to heal before you return to practice.
If you start to feel some aches and pains after "springing back into action," follow up with one of our physical therapists at The Smith Clinic. This will give you the opportunity to assess whether your problem needs medical intervention or can be treated with a home exercise program. The sooner you address the issue, the faster you can get back to your favorite outdoor activities.