Turn a setback into a comeback – Managing sports injuries
1.1 Sports injuries
Whether you play sports for competition or fitness, you don’t want to be sidelined with an injury. The most common types of sports-related injuries include muscle, ligament and tendon strains and sprains, bone fractures, and bruising. Time away from the game or forced inactivity is something we all want to avoid. Albeit it is impossible to prevent every injury, injury rates could be reduced by 25% if athletes took appropriate preventative action.
Sprains are injuries to ligaments, the tough bands connecting bones in a joint. Suddenly stretching ligaments past their limits deforms or tears them. Strains are injuries to muscle fibers or tendons, which anchor muscles to bones. Over-stretching or overusing a muscle causes tears in the muscle fibers or tendons.
Many sportspersons suffer from some form of injury from the sport in which they participate every year. If noticed and analyzed it is estimated that approximately 50% of those injuries were preventable, had the individual taken the proper precautions; either prior to a workout, practice, or actual game.
Regardless of the varying probabilities of specific sports related injury types, prevention of a sports injury is not only beneficial in the short term, but over the long run as we continue to age as well. There are several approaches and techniques that can be implemented to make the probability of incurring a sports-related injury much smaller.
2. Factors that Increase Your Risk of Sport Injuries
The most common cause of a sports injury is the failure to warm-up sufficiently before beginning strenuous activity, however injuries are also often caused by the incorrect use of equipment and insufficient safety precautions. Those most susceptible to sports injury are competitive and professional athletes, whose intense training can make certain muscles vulnerable to injury through overuse.
• History of injuries
Previous injuries to a muscle, or joint tend to develop into chronic problem areas for many athletes. It is extremely important to warm up, and stretch previously injured parts.
• Extensive training
Consecutive training may stress muscles and cause injury. Recovery days reduce injury rates by repairing muscles and connective tissues between training sessions
• Risk of a particular sport
Kids today participate in sports camps and structured activities and tend to play their chosen sport year-round. The increased time spent on the field brings a greater risk of sports-related injuries.
3. Personal checks for injury check
One should not hesitate to seek help if experiencing a pain or something abnormal. If one feels that the body does not respond, it is better to participate in pain-free sports and activities. It is not advisable to push through pain as it can lead to a more serious condition that could have been prevented with early intervention.
• Physical examination
A physical examination is a great way to determine fitness. It assesses any areas of concern before start of an activity, and safeguards from further injuries during play.
It is important for athletes to change the sports or activities they are pursuing so that, they are not continuously putting stress on the same muscles and joints.
Heat-related illness is a real concern for sportsmen, especially during hot and humid days. Self check if there is adequate water before, during and after play, and watch for any signs of a heat-related illness, including fatigue, nausea, vomiting, confusion or fainting.
Tiredness is a major driver of injury. Sleep deprivation is universally underestimated problem, and a major factor in pain. Sportsmen who get enough sleep are rare as insomnia is a common problem. Enough sleep is essential for good fitness and injury prevention.
Mobilizations are rhythmical movements that gradually expand your comfortable range of motion, providing your tissues with a variety of stimuli and stresses.
4. Cautions to prevent sports injury
The weekend warrior has a high rate of injury. To play any sports, one should get adequately trained. Injuries can be prevented by following a regular conditioning program of exercises designed specifically for the sport.
Rules of the sport
Every sport has a set of rules designed to keep things safe. It is extremely important to play every sport by its own rules of conduct. Rules are framed to keep athletes healthy. Know them and follow them.
Protective pads, mouth guards, helmets, gloves and other equipment are not for the weak; they are for everyone. Protective equipment that fits well can save one’s knees, hands, teeth, eyes, and head. Never play without safety gear.
Athletes with a high number of consecutive days of training, tend to have more injuries. It is a common perception that the more one trains, the better he / she plays. Do keep in mind that this is a misconception. Rest is a critical component of proper training. Rest can make one stronger and prevent injuries of overuse, fatigue and poor judgment.
Warm muscles are less susceptible to injuries. Proper warm up is essential for injury prevention. Make sure your warm up suits your sport. You may simply start your sport slowly, or practice specific stretching or mental rehearsal depending upon your activity.
Avoid playing when very tired or in pain. Pain indicates a problem. Attention has to be provided to the warning signs your body provides.
Sports injuries are commonly caused by overuse, direct impact, or the application of force that is greater than the body part can structurally withstand. Common injuries include bruises, sprains, strains, joint injuries and nose bleeds. It is important to see a doctor, as leaving an injury untreated can have far more severe. If symptoms are severe or don’t start to get better within a few days or weeks, your General Physician would mostly refer for specialist treatment and support, such as physiotherapy. Particularly serious injuries will occasionally require a procedure or operation to align any misplaced bones, fix any broken bones, or repair any torn ligaments. Depending on the type of injury you have, it can take a few weeks or months to make a full recovery. While you recover, it’s important not to do too much too fast – aim to increase your level of activity gradually over time.