So you’ve started a new workout and you want to go at the same pace you did five years ago. Or, you’re a seasoned athlete who has trained for years. Part of living a healthy lifestyle is staying active. Playing sports and engaging in physical activity has many advantages, but the more active you are, the more you need to take steps to prevent injury.
We’ve listed some things you can do to help cut down your chances of getting hurt:
Set realistic goals. Don’t do too much too soon.
“Training errors, including an abrupt change in frequency, intensity, or duration may contribute to an increased risk for injury,” says NCH Physical Therapist Jennifer Livingston. Whether you are starting a new physical activity or returning to a sport, begin at a slower pace and gradually increase the intensity to avoid overdoing it.
Warming up helps to prevent injury and gradually prepares the mind, muscles, joints, heart rate, and circulation. Stretch properly and warm up muscles slowly.
Being properly outfitted for your specific sport is important. Help prevent injuries by wearing shoes and protective gear that fit well and are appropriate for the sport. “Running shoes wear out,” says Benjamin Hasan, M.D., a family and sports medicine doctor with the NCH Medical Group. “Replace your shoes if you have had them a few years.”
Avoid playing through pain
If you are hurt, see a doctor. Follow all the doctor’s orders before returning to the sport. “Return-to-play recommendations are a critical part of the doctor’s role with athletes,” Dr. Hasan says. “See the physician for follow-up visits if you are not improving as planned.”
Set aside a day to rest
“Delayed onset muscle soreness usually occurs 24 to 72 hours after activity,” Livingston says. “Allow adequate rest time to promote muscle recovery and avoid an overuse injury.”
Take a sports injury risk assessment
Consult with a physical therapist to find out if you are at risk for a sports injury and learn correct exercises that help prevent injury.
As part of NCH’s physical rehab services, the new NCH Athletic Rehab program offers a sports injury risk assessment for athletes 11 years and older to test for substantial, moderate, or minimal risk for injury. Athletes who take the assessment are given a customized exercise program that can help prevent injury while continuing to play sports.
To learn more about the NCH sports injury risk assessment, call 847-618-3550.