Finding a sport that you enjoy is an excellent way to keep active and physically fit as you get older. Depending on what sport you choose, there are risks that come with playing any sport especially if you have lived a sedentary lifestyle. Contact sports like soccer, football, hockey, basketball, can increase your risk of injury compared to low-impact sports or exercise.
Did you know that there is an average annual sports-related accidents and injuries account for 8.6 million injuries per year? Children ages 5 to 14 and adults over the age of 25 reported the highest number of injuries. You are most likely aware that an injury can easily set you back several hundred dollars or more depending on the nature of your injury. These injuries also cost people time, fitness setbacks due to recovery, lost wages, and even potentially their long-term health problems or complications as a result of your injury.
In the years that I personally played a contact sport, I found that prevention goes a long way. Even though all injuries aren’t preventable, abiding by the tips and suggestions below can help reduce your risk.
Always Wear the Appropriate Protective Gear
When you are playing sports, it is important to make sure that you wear the appropriate protective gear. It is important that you purchase equipment and gear that is made for the sport you play.
Do you play multiple sports? Keep in mind that if you plan multiple sports that you need appropriate protective gear for each sport.e
Wearing the wrong kind of protective gear while play contact sports could result in a personal injury you to injure yourself or may even hurt another player. For example, you don’t want to wear football cleats while playing soccer or vice versa.
Don’t forget to wear your safety gear during practice too! Do keep in find that you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that the protective gear will prevent all injuries especially those that carry a higher risk.
Don’t Over Do It
When I used to play indoor soccer, I ended up playing on several teams because it was one of my favorite ways to get in some exercise. Indoor soccer is very face paced and there were some days that I would have to play two games in one day. If I wasn’t in shape at the time, I could have easily injured myself because of overdoing it.
Plan to take some time off from practice and games. Your body needs time to rest and recover. Over-training can cause injuries such as fatigue, problems sleeping, decreased reaction time, slower muscle recovery, decreases your endurance, causes irritability or added stress, and reduces your muscle strength. When your body is tired, you aren’t always thinking clearly so you may take additional risks that you normally wouldn’t do.
Always Play by the Rules
Always follow the rules when you are playing. Choose to break the rules that could potentially cause you to injure yourself or even hurt another player. For example, most baseball leagues don’t allow you to slide into the base headfirst. Always discuss the rules with your coach or league before you play so you know if there are any special rules that you need to follow before game day.
Here is an example of a rule that was broken by a baseball player: Joe decided to slide into home plate in order to gain a run for the team. However, he ended up sliding into the catcher’s shoe. Lucky for him, he only ended up with a small knot on his head. It could have ended up worse. He could have easily ended up with a neck or back injury called spondylolysis (fracture in your vertebra).
Enjoy Your Breaks
Often times coaches are paying attention to the overall health of the players on the field and will call a substitution when they notice that a player is tired. If your coach calls you off, don’t argue about not getting enough playing time. Instead, enjoy your break and take the chance to get re-hydrated. Once you have had a chance to rest briefly, your coach can allow you to go back into the game as needed. Don’t forget to rest during practice too!
Add Strength Training to Your Fitness Routine
Have you ever noticed that you are more clumsy when your not in shape? When your muscles are weak they are unable to properly support the joints in your body. Unstable joints can cause you to be clumsy and be more prone to falls.
Adding strength training to your fitness routine can help improve your joint instability and increase performance. When your muscles are stronger you end up with leaner muscles, increasd muscle strength, and you have the energy to do more.
Even if you are unable to spend time in the gym lifting weights, you still can build stronger muscles from your living room. You don’t even need any fancy equipment or weights to get results. Start off with these best bodyweight leg exercises to improve your overall strength. Don’t forget to strengthen your core too.
Do Warm-Up and Cool Down Properly
Take the time to stretch your muscles and warm up before you start any type of exercise including playing contact sports. Gentle stretching helps increase your flexibility and warm-up your muscles, joints, etc. Once you have completed practice or a game, don’t forget to cool down too. This will help prevent your muscles from cramping up.
Make sure that you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day and while you are working out or playing sports. Your body loses fluids while sweating and it is important that you replace lost fluids. Staying hydrated helps prevent cramping, dehydration, and heat exhaustion.
Stop the Moment You Feel Any Pain or Get Injured
Injuries can happen to even the most experienced play on the field but as a rookie sometimes we tend to think we are invincible. It is important that if you feel pain or experience an injury while playing contact sports to take a break. Continuing to play while injured could further complicate the problem especially when it comes to back or neck injuries and concussions.
If you wind up with a have a back injury such as spondylosis you could end up with long-term back problems. It is important that you see an orthopedic doctor preferably one who specializes in sports medicine. Untreated spondylolysis can cause the condition to progress even further to a condition called spondylolisthesis. Spondylolisthesis is a diagnosis that is made when the affected vertebra slips forward relative to the vertebra below.
Sports injuries can occur at any point especially when you are playing contact sports. But with a bit of prevention and taking care of your body, it can help reduce the risk of injuring yourself. Injuries are a pain to deal with but the cost of injuries can cost up to $19.2 billion annually.