Sports Injuries & Recovery
If you are a serious athlete, sports enthusiast or simply someone who enjoys staying in shape and taking part in many of the different sporting activities on offer you will know all about sports injuries, aches, strains and pains.
Even if you look after yourself and prepare your body well, it is likely that you will at some point be on the receiving end of a sporting related injury as you subject your body to the stresses and strains of competition, training, exercise or simply having fun.
Sports injuries come in many different forms and can affect a whole range of muscles, joints and bones.
In some cases connective tissues, the tendons and ligaments that help to hold the body together can also be unduly affected, with many athletes complaining of problems.
Even though sports injuries come in many different forms, you will find that some athletes are more prone to injury than others and there are a few common complaints that arise more often than others when taking part in sport and general exercise.
It is vitally important that you never ignore sporting injuries… nor should you ever get into the habit of believing that your body will sort itself out
If you participate in contact sports, for instance, you will be vulnerable to particular complaints – usually trauma type injuries.
A fractured or broken bone and a twisted knee would fit into this category, with traumatic injuries usually the result of collisions or high intensity impacts.
In many cases sports associated injury can be avoided with the correct approach and simple precautions.
However, it is often near impossible to steer clear of traumatic injury as it would mean not making contact with anyone or anything during a game.
Obviously this is often not possible, especially in highly competitive contact sports such as football, rugby and the like, where such traumatic injuries are more likely.
In a lot of sports, even though injuries do occur from time to time, successful athlete rehabilitation can be achieved with the correct diagnosis and treatment.
Additionally, in many cases of injury, athletes can also be offered preventative advice and specialist treatments that will help to minimise the chances of future injury.
A well thought out preventative approach to injury is essential if you are a club or elite athlete; take part in regular sporting events or training activities as it will help to keep you fit, health and hopefully injury free.
At the opposite end of the recovery spectrum; if you fail to follow your recovery plan or return from injury too soon you can seriously jeopardise your body’s ability to perform at its best, and more importantly your long term health and wellbeing.
Never ignore an injury
It is vitally important that you never ignore sporting injuries… nor should you ever get into the habit of believing that your body will sort itself out – the truth is that it probably won’t.
It is therefore essential that if you sustain an injury you seek specialist advice; get the most appropriate treatment for your condition and give your body time to rest to allow it to heal properly.
If you decide to soldier on regardless you run the risk of aggravating the condition and in extreme cases you could end up fighting a much more serious problem that is even harder to treat.
Some sporting injuries occur over time and can often be put down to general wear and tear on the body.
Despite this, many injures are now easily identifiable and can be treated effectively providing you seek out the right professional help early on.
It is also worth noting that a pro-active approach to injury prevention is far more beneficial than any post-injury treatment, however effective.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail – Benjamin Franklin
Risk factors affecting sports injuries
Many sports professionals will tell you that there are certain risk factors that lead to injury.
These can be divided into two general groups – extrinsic factors (outside the body), and intrinsic factors (personal to your body).
There are a number of extrinsic factors to take into consideration, including poor technique, inadequate or inappropriate equipment and the failure to allow the body time to warm-up and warm-down correctly.
Failure to warm-up and warm-down properly is commonplace and is one of the basic rules of exercise that so often seems to be ignored.
Typically, the whole preparation process should feature proper body exercise that gives the body’s tissues (tendons and ligaments), muscles and joints an opportunity to stretch and warm-up ready for action.
The warm-up phase should increase blood flow to muscles which in turn will make them more responsive and less prone to injury.
If you want to optimise the benefits of your training and exercise programmes, minimise the risk of injury and stay in good shape, cooling down is also vitally important at the end of each session.
Post exercise low intensity activity is the best way to calm your body, followed by stretches which will keep your muscles in the best shape even after exercise.
Having the correct tools to perform a task is an essential feature in any walk of life and it especially applies to sports performances, training and exercise.
Using the correct equipment, wearing correctly fitting clothes and suitable footwear will have a positive impact on your sporting performance as well as minimising the risk of injury.
Wearing the correct footwear will really help to support your feet and ankles and could minimise the risk of injury further down the line.
Poor technique is also a common cause of injuries, together with overuse, which is where a particular part of the body is used more extensively than others.
For instance, tennis players will often suffer with arm, shoulder and general upper body aches and complaints as these are the areas which are used most often and so take most of the strain during training and competition.
Intrinsic injury, in very simple terms, relates directly to your personal physique and your physiology.
Being overweight, for instance, is one major factor that can contribute to your chances of sustaining an injury and should be avoided.
Excess body weight increases the pressure on muscles and subjects joints, tendons and ligaments to additional and unnecessary wear and tear.
Muscle weakness and limited flexibility also feature as regular complaints.
Treating sports injuries
As previously stated, sports injuries can vary in severity and their impact on your ability to take part in your sport.
If you are unfortunate enough to sustain an injury you need to be clear on the impact it will have on you and your performance, and then decide fairly quickly how best to treat your complaint.
If your injury is a minor one and you are merely suffering from a little stiffness, rest is probably the best course of action.
However, if you believe your injury to be more serious or if you are experiencing significant pain or a recurring complaint, it is always advisable to seek professional medical guidance from a doctor or sports injury specialist.
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