Top tips to help prevent sports injuries

03 April 2018

Sports participation is continuing to grow in the UK. The latest data from Sport England showing almost 16 million people over the age of 16 are participating in a sports activity at least once a week, with the highest rate of growth amongst women.

Whether you are a competitive athlete or an occasional exerciser, most people will suffer a sports injury at some point. Here are some simple tips and advice to reduce your chances of suffering a sports related injury from Mr James Parker, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon.

Set realistic and achievable goals 
Whether you are new to exercise or an elite sports star, you should set realistic goals for each activity or time period. Being over ambitious will cause you to over exert yourself resulting in injuries and an overall decrease in performance. Gradually increasing the duration and intensity of exercise over weeks or months will lead to the greatest improvement in performance.

Prepare in advance
Many injuries we see are people who have not exercised for some time, and then undertake a significant period of exercise (eg a weeks skiing, a five a side football match etc). Preparing in advance by exercising specific muscle groups will reduce the risk of injury not only to the muscles and tendons but also the joints they support and stabilise.

Warm up and start slowly 
All exercise should begin with a gentle warm up to encourage blood flow around the body and particularly to the muscle groups about to be used. The warm up in general should last around five to 10 minutes, and should gradually build up in intensity during this period. The exact nature of the warm up should be adjusted according to the activity about to be undertaken. Gentle stretching of muscles can also be undertaken, but this should be left until you are fully warmed up or even after the exercise as part of your cool down.

Improve your technique
Coaching in your chosen sport or activity will not only improve your results, but is likely to reduce your risk of injury. By using the correct technique you will be able to focus on particular muscle groups which may need to be strengthened more than others.

Correct equipment 
Using the correct size and type of equipment for you is essential. This also includes using the correct protective equipment where applicable.

Fuelling and hydration
It is important to keep hydrated throughout exercise and longer periods of exercise will also require some on-the-go nutrition. After prolonged exercise, refuelling with a mixture of protein and carbohydrates will aid muscle recovery and repair.

Cool down
After the exercise, a structured cool down programme should be followed. This may be something as simple as a brisk walk, often coupled with some specific stretching exercises. If you are taking advice from a trainer, coach or physiotherapist, they should be able to advise on this.

Listen to your body
Suffering from some mild muscle aches and pains is quite normal during or after exercise. However, if these are severe or persistent, and do not resolve with some simple rest, it may be worth reducing your training or even having some time off. This also applies if the pain is felt within the joint rather than the surrounding tissues. If rest fails to resolve things then it is time to seek expert advice.

Written by Mr James Parker, Orthopaedic Surgeon 

Here at Spire Elland Hospital we offer everything from muscle strength testing, major and minor surgery through to professional sports recovery and rehabilitation. We are here to help you make all the right choices for your health, so you can focus on your recovery.

For more information, or to book an appointment please call 01422 324 069 or make an enquiry

The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other healthcare professionals.

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