Top 10 Tips to Avoid Serious Sports Injuries

Although sports are a great way to stay healthy and can be fantastic fun to take part in, some sports put participants at risk of serious personal injuries. You should take steps to protect yourself when taking part in physical activity and sport is no different.
The Top Ten
1 Stretch

Before you begin vigorously exercising, you should perform stretching exercises for a few minutes. Stretching promotes flexibility, and poor flexibility can lead to tendon and muscle strains. You should also stretch when you finish exercising and are 'cooling down'. Focus on the body parts that you have been putting under strain - for instance, if you are playing football, you should focus on the legs, whereas if you have been wrestling you should focus on the upper body.

2 Warm up

Warm-ups prepare the body for physical activity, so particularly strenuous workouts do not cause unnecessary stress and strain. A warm-up will see the heart rate rise, the muscles and connective tissues warm, the body's movements become more functional and mobility increase.

3 Wear relevant protective equipment

When cycling, playing American football or taking part in a number of other sports, you should wear helmets. Pads and mitts can be useful for combat sports such as karate or judo, whereas lower body protection is useful for cricket and similar bat-and-ball games. You should make sure you are wearing the right equipment for your sport - for instance, don't wear a cycling helmet for American football. Protective equipment has been specially designed with the risks of your sport in mind and can stop you from suffering a serious personal injury.

4 Know the rules of the sport

Many sports injuries are caused by people who do not fully understand the rules of their sport. While this issue may pose particular risks in combat sport, it is also present in less obviously risky pastimes, such as cycle racing or football.

5 Practice good technique

Everyone has seen football tackles performed badly, and many top-flight footballers have had their careers prematurely cut short after suffering leg injuries in poor tackles. Head and brain injuries could even occur following poor rugby tackles. Poor technique is frequently an issue in sports injuries claims - for instance, lifting weights badly, punching a bag incorrectly or even throwing a ball without the right technique could cause someone to suffer a serious personal injury. You should know exactly what you're doing when taking part in sports and should not be over-zealous or push yourself beyond your capabilities.

6 Do not exhaust yourself

Tiredness is your body's way of telling you that it is reaching the limits of its capabilities. You should take breaks when you feel exhausted so your body can repair itself. Over-exerting your muscles and bones could make them particularly vulnerable to injuries. However, don't be lazy - once you've recovered, get back out there!

7 Consider good nutrition

You will put your body under considerable stress when engaged in sports and should ensure that it is capable of dealing with this stress. Therefore, you should ensure you have eaten properly and that your body is capable of dealing with the pressures you will put it under.

However, it is not advisable to eat a large meal immediately before exercise. Instead, you should give your body around three to four hours to process a large meal and two to three hours before a small meal. While you won't risk a serious personal injury, you could experience cramps and stomach problems.

8 Rest when you're injured

Top-flight footballers will not even hit the pitch with a sore toe. Putting pressure and strain on existing personal injuries will cause the injury to worsen or will significantly extend recovery times. Exercising while injured could see you put out of action for a long time or could even lead to disability.

Some injuries, such as back injuries, frequently benefit from moderate exercise, but overexertion is still a bad idea. Listen to your body and do what it tells you.

9 Cool down

At the end of every sports game, you should take a few moments to cool down. This will give your body time to process lactic acids and other waste products and help return your breathing, blood pressure and heart rate back to safe levels. While you may be tempted to jump straight in the shower or slouch on a couch, you will reduce the risk of an injury by taking a 10-minute cool-down period.

10 Consider sports therapy

Sports therapists know the skills and techniques required to help your body recover from exercise. If you're regularly taking part in vigorous exercise, visit a sports therapist on a monthly basis and enjoy a deep massage. Sports therapists will also be able to tell you what sporting injuries you are likely to sustain and how you can prevent these problems developing.

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