Tips to Prevent Fall Sports Injuries, Protect Joints
An active lifestyle is key for physical and mental health. Ways to stay active may include participating in sports and recreational activities.
As the fall season kicks off, athletes should take precautions to prevent injuries to their muscles, bones and joints.
Athletes between the ages of 5 and 24 sustain more than half of the seven million sports and recreational injuries each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Common injuries include the following:
- Acute injuries where players are hit by something (like a ball), fall or run into another player. These can be minor (like a scratch or bruise) or more serious (like an eye injury or broken bone).
- Overuse injuries (also called repetitive stress injuries) that happen from doing the same action over and over. They can cause problems with bone growth. Overuse injuries often happen in the feet, knees, elbows and shoulders.
- Reinjuries that happen when an athlete returns to the sport before an earlier injury fully heals.
Proper Warm-up, Workout Prevents Injuries
Hip and hamstring injuries, tendinitis, knee problems or foot strains can be an issue for cross-country runners.
Golfers may experience golfer’s elbow, tendinitis, lower back pain or rotator cuff conditions.
Pain and swelling can occur in many types of joints and muscles during practices or games, so knowing risks and preventive measures may reduce further injury.
Physical therapist Marcus Knox, DPT, told Medical Xpress proper warm-up and recovery are important in preventing spring sports injuries. These tips also apply year round.
Athletes also should follow an “off-season program to work on mobility and stability limitations or impairments,” said Dr. Knox, who works at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
“If you’re in a sport that requires you to have a lot of overhead motions like throwing, make sure that you have the right stability and mobility of the shoulder and shoulder blade, and you want to make sure the spine is moving correctly,” he said.
“There are lots of little things that you’d want to find out about your form before the season starts so you can work on that in the off-season,” Dr. Knox added.
The CDC offers a few tips for players to protect their muscles, bones and joints:
- Use protective gear, such as helmets, wrist guards and knee and elbow pads — in addition to any other sports gear appropriate to your activity or player position.
- Be sure that sports protective equipment is maintained correctly and is in good condition — without missing or broken buckles or compressed or worn padding.
- Have players learn and practice skill sets relevant to their chosen activity. Be sure to safely and slowly increase activities to improve physical fitness; being in good condition can protect participants from injury.
- Allow time for athletes to gradually adjust to hot or humid environments to prevent heat-related injuries or illness. Parents and coaches should pay close attention to make sure that players are hydrated and appropriately dressed.
- Communicate positive messages about safety and serve as role models for safe behavior, including wearing a helmet and following the rules.
Don’t Delay Treatment
If you suffer a sports or recreational injury, do not overdo your training routine for recovery. Follow a doctor’s instructions on when to go back to playing after an injury.
“There has to be the perfect combination of rest and stress in order to recover from an injury quickly and safely,” Dr. Knox said.
Sometimes rest and stress are not enough for a full recovery. If you suffer from chronic pain in the knee, hip, shoulder or back, do not ignore these symptoms, or your condition may worsen.
Do not delay your diagnosis or treatment. Our orthopedists can develop a treatment plan to manage your joint pain. In many cases, surgery is not necessary, but your doctor may recommend it if you would benefit from a procedure. Schedule an appointment for an exam today.