This short article looks at some of the tips, tricks and helpful hints you can use to help prevent sports injury and do-away with stiff, aching muscles & joints. It''s been put together to answer some of the more common questions we get regarding stretching and sports injury, and details a number of useful sports injury prevention techniques.
Overcoming & Preventing Sports Injury
If you’re involved in the health & fitness industry, whether it be participating in your favorite sport, coaching, training or just keeping fit, you''ll know how annoying and debilitating a sports injury can be. In reality, when you have a sports injury you’re actually losing on two fronts. Firstly, you’re losing simply because your body has been hurt and now needs time and care to repair itself. And on top of this, you’re also losing the time you could have been putting into training and improving your sporting ability.
A sports injury is a bit like losing money. Not only do you lose whatever you were going to buy with that money, but you also have to work hard to make up the money you've lost. Take it from me; a sports injury is one of the most frustrating and debilitating occurrences that can happen to anyone who’s serious about their health, fitness, sport or exercise.
The Cold, Hard Facts
I recently read an article titled "Managing Sports Injuries" where the author estimated that over 27,000 American's sprain their ankle every day. (And no, that''s not a typo, EVERY DAY!) On top of this, Sports Medicine Australia estimates that 1 in every 17 participants of sport and exercise are injured playing their favorite sport. This figure is even higher for contact sports like Football and Gridiron. However, the truly disturbing fact is that up to 50 percent of these injuries may have been prevented.
The Professionals Secret Weapon
While there are a number of basic preventative measures that will assist in the prevention of sports injury, there is one technique that has slowly been gaining in popularity. It’s still not used as often as it should be by the average sports participant, but with the professionals using it more and more, it’s only a matter of time before it starts to catch on. Before we dive into this little used technique for minimizing your likelihood of sports injury, let''s take a quick look at some other techniques to help you prevent sports injury.
So, Where Do You Start?
Most people are coming to understand both the importance and the benefits of a good warm-up. A correct warm-up will help to raise body temperature, increase blood flow and promote oxygen supply to the muscles. It will also help to prepare the mind, body, muscles and joints for the physical activity to come.
While warming-up is important, a good cool-down also plays a vital role in helping to prevent sports injury. How? A good cool-down will prevent blood from pooling in your limbs. It will also prevent waste products, such as lactic acid, building up in your muscles. Not only that, a good cool-down will help your muscles and tendons to relax and loosen, stopping them from becoming stiff and tight.
While preventative measures such as warming-up and cooling-down play a vital role in minimizing the likelihood of sports injury, other techniques such as obeying the rules, using protective equipment and plain common sense are all useful.
The One Technique to Cut Your Chance of Injury by More Than Half
So what is this magic technique? Why is it such a secret? And how come you haven''t heard of it before? Well chances are you have, and also, it’s not that secret and it’s definitely not magic. You've probably used this technique yourself at some point or at least seen others using it. But the real question is, how dedicated have you been to making this technique a consistent part of your athletic preparation?
What is it? STRETCHING. Yes, stretching. The simple technique of stretching can play an imperative role in helping you to prevent the occurrence of sports injury. Unfortunately stretching is one area of athletic preparation often neglected. Do not underestimate its benefits. Don''t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won''t be effective. Stretching is a vital part of any exercise program and should be looked upon as being as important as any other part of your health and fitness.
In recent time the professionals have been getting more and more serious about stretching and ultimately, their flexibility. The coaches and trainers are just starting to realize how important flexible muscles are to helping prevent sports injury. Flexibility has often been neglected in the overall conditioning of modern athletes. It’s only now that its benefits are proving invaluable to all those serious about staying injury free.
How Does Stretching Prevent Injury?
One of the greatest benefits of stretching is that you’re able to increase the length of both your muscles and tendons. This leads to an increased range of movement, which means your limbs and joints can move further before an injury occurs. Let's take a look at a few examples.
If the muscles in your neck are tight and stiff this limits your ability to look behind or turn your head around. If for some reason your head is turned backwards, past its'' normal range of movement, in a football scrum or tackle for example, this could result in a muscle tear or strain. You can help to prevent this from happening by increasing the flexibility, and the range of movement, of the muscles and tendons in your neck.
And what about the muscles in the back of your legs? The Hamstring muscles. These muscles are put under a huge strain when doing any sort of sport which involves running and especially for sports which require kicking. Short, tight hamstring muscles can spell disaster for many sports people. By ensuring these muscles are loose and flexible, you''ll cut your chance of a hamstring injury dramatically.
How else can stretching help? While injuries can occur at any time, they are more likely to occur if the muscles are fatigued, tight and depleted of energy. Fatigued, tight muscles are also less capable of performing the skills required for your particular sport or activity. Stretching can help to prevent an injury by promoting recovery and decreasing soreness. Stretching ensures that your muscles and tendons are in good working order. The more conditioned your muscles and tendons are, the better they can handle the rigors of sport and exercise, and the less likely that they''ll become injured.
So as you can see, there''s more to stretching than most people think. Stretching is a simple and effective activity which will help you to enhance your athletic performance, decrease your likelihood of sports injury and minimize muscle soreness.
Brad Walker. Brad is a leading stretching and sports injury consultant with over 15 years experience in the health and fitness industry - http://www.thestretchinghandbook.com/.