Preventing Exercise and Sports Injuries

BODY SCULPTURE Health GuideBy M. P. Gasbarri

I had intended to begin this article by generally going over the types of sports injuries commonly seen at hospitals and rehabilitation centers, and then offering some ideas on how to avoid these mishaps.  But I decided to do this in reverse and get to the crux of the matter right away. Indeed, when it comes to preventing exercise and sports injuries it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, when you come right down to it, there are only two basic guidelines to follow in order to prevent most all exercise and sports-related injuries from occurring.

1. Wear the proper gear and/or use the proper equipment/accessories, etc., and;
2. Be AWARE.
The second one is a very important point to keep in mind at all times.  I have seen exercise buffs as well as friends meet with some injury or another simply because they were so fervently caught up in the moment of what they were doing and didn’t think of the consequences.  Poor training or exercising habits can result in injury. Being aware of what you are doing, while you are doing it, applies to whether you’re taking part in a competitive ball game or crossing the street.  Learn to listen to your inner warning signal that communicates with you on a daily basis, and use good old common sense. When engaged in an intense workout or running or swimming to increase stamina, it’s okay to push yourself a bit farther, but never push yourself to the brink; that brink may be your breaking point and the consequences may be disastrous.  So, know the right moment to ease off. Pace yourself; be aware of your limits and how far you can go.

The first guideline is self-explanatory, and I’ll get to it in a moment.  I first want to impress upon you the importance of using proper protective body supports and gear, and investing in good quality sports equipment and accessories. If you are designing a home gym and intend to invest money in equipment such as a treadmill, exercise bike, cross strider, multi gym, and so on, it is vitally important to purchase from a professional and trustworthy company that manufactures sports equipment and accessories that are built to be sturdy and rugged, and with superior quality materials, and are ergonomically designed. Many exercise injuries, like the ones I’ve listed below, come from faulty exercise machines and equipment, and neglecting to use proper protective gear. In your endeavors to build up a strong and healthy body, the last thing you want is to injure yourself.  So, do things right… right from the get-go.

There are millions of sports and exercise-related injuries that occur every year. They are basically placed in two categories: acute and chronic injuries. Acute is characterized by a sudden, traumatic injury, such as a concussion as a result of being hit in the head by a hockey puck, or a sprained muscle, a twisted ankle, and so forth. A chronic injury is characterized by overuse of a certain muscle or muscle group which may result in swelling or inflammation, or it could be a pain or ache, most often noted when you are resting after you finish your workout or exercise session.

Below is a ed list of injuries that one may see resulting from various sports and activities such as football, baseball, tennis, hockey, boxing/karate/martial arts training, and others. Some of the same injuries in the list below may occur during your personal fitness program.

. Sprains and strains and twists
.Tennis elbow (epicondylitis) and knee ligament injuries (runner’s knee)
.Ankle and tendon injuries (tendonitis)
. Pulled muscles or muscle weakness
. Muscle Cramps
.Inflammations and swellings
. Bruises and contusions
. Fractures or dislocations
. Head injuries and concussions
. Neck-related injuries
… and many more.

Many of these injuries can be prevented by the very common sense approach mention in the first guideline: Wear the proper gear and/or use the proper equipment/accessories. Concussions, for example, are a common part of football injuries. The right equipment, such as wearing proper head gear that is strapped in securely and using a mouth-guard will reduce the incidence of head traumas. Be aware (guideline number 2) while playing a hard game of football could be translated as “keeping your head up and have your eyes open” – you’ve probably heard your coach echo those words many times.  Sprains and strains during a game of sports or while engaged in a vigorous exercise workout are almost inevitable.  But it doesn’t need to be so.  Prevent such mishaps by wearing good quality wrist wraps, ankle and knee supports, and even shoulder and waist wraps, if necessary.

The right footwear is important also, and will help you avoid undue injuries. A sprint runner, for instance, would wear a different type of shoe than the marathon runner or the jogger would. Wearing the proper type of footwear will enhance your performance and prevent unnecessary injuries at the same time.  As strange as it may sound, I’ve seen folks at the Sunday jogging track carelessly trotting around the track in leather dress shoes or sandals or slippers and footwear I couldn’t even begin to identify. Running barefoot would have been a better choice for these people.  Again, be aware.  Know what type of sport or exercise you’re doing and learn about the best gear and accessories that will protect you and enhance your performance.

Many muscle cramps can be avoided by spending a few minutes doing warm-ups. Stretching and proper warm-ups prior to training or competition or performance has been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of injury. Before I swim or go for a run, I insist on doing a good ten minutes of warm-up stretches.  When I feel completely limber I know I’m ready to exercise with confidence.  In fact, stretching your muscles and expanding the range of motion in your limbs is an excellent exercise in itself; I highly recommend it.

If you strain your back muscles or other muscles as a result of your weight lifting regimen, common sense dictates that you should be using a lighter weight. Move gradually, methodically, and safely toward your strength development goals. Impressing the girls at the beach is not worth it when you consider the pain of torn muscles.

By following these simple guidelines I have laid out, you can decrease your chances of succumbing to chronic or acute sports injuries. Have a safe and well-paced workout!

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