In an increasingly competitive and lucrative sporting world, athletes aim to maximise fitness and strength to remain at the top of their game. Contact sports have become a brutal contest for domination, with injuries the inevitable result, while weekend warriors and casual sports people also risk debilitating injuries if preventative steps aren’t taken.
‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.’ This famous axiom can be applied to health and fitness, and is unfortunately ignored way too often by knockabout Australians on the sports field. Getting in shape and staying healthy requires a progressive strategy, including avoiding the temptation to go full speed ahead on your first day back on the paddock. Here are three steps to preventing sports injuries.
1: Adjust goals as your fitness improves
It’s in the nature of sports people to set high standards and train hard to achieve their goals. However, the goals need to be realistic and sustainable to avoid new injuries or the recurrence of an old one. If you are a newcomer to a sport or discipline, take the time to learn proper training and performance techniques under the guidance of an experienced coach.
Successful sports people attuned to their bodies understand personal limitations and are acutely aware of any symptoms that could indicate injury. Feeling somewhat sore or tired is normal after playing sport, but long-term pain or mobility problems are signs that damage has occurred. Detecting the potential onset of an injury before it escalates is an extremely valuable step in preventing sports injuries. In other words, if you want to run a marathon and today is your first training day, start with a walk around the block.
2: Warm up and cool down
The human body has powerful capacity for physical exertion. As you exercise, your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature all adapt to the change, and with regular exercise your muscles will grow. Moderate fitness is beneficial for everyone, but pushing too hard too soon can cause damage to tendons, ligaments, joints and bones. It’s essential to warm up and cool down properly to prevent unwanted sports injuries.
Professional sports coaches and sports therapists are always on the lookout for training and recovery advantages for their team. Some practices are universally known, such as the application of Deep Heat warm up and cool down products. Generations of Australian sports people are familiar with products such as Deep Heat Regular Relief, ICE Gel and Deep Heat Sports Spray. Here are some basic guidelines for your warm up and cool down routine.
Before exercise: Perform a dynamic warm up suited to your fitness level. This will improve blood flow and mobility, but don’t overdo it. Apply a heat product that stimulates muscles, tendons and ligaments, allowing them to stretch comfortably and easily.
After exercise: Sports scientists recommend a warm down routine immediately after exercise or sport. The purpose of it is to transition the body back to a resting state, reduce the heart rate, stabilise breathing and increase oxygen in our body and muscles. Not warming down your muscles after intense physical activity can lead to tired muscles, lack of performance, potential immune system issues and so on over time. To further assist with your warm down routine, use a massage oil like Deep Heat PRO Sports Recovery Massage Oil - designed to warm down, loosen and help repair muscles whilst quickly increasing blood circulation to that area. Combining your general warm down exercise with heat and massage improves your muscle recovery, helps lengthen your muscles and reduces post workout soreness.
3: Listen to your body
Exercise should be steadily increased, and fitness maintained at a level you are comfortable with. It’s true that the feel-good factor of exercise makes it difficult to hold back, but pushing too hard can lead to an injury setback and total derailment of your plans. Your body needs to adjust to the new stresses experienced in muscles, joints and bones, and while a short-lived mild ache is ‘good pain’, ongoing and extended pain isn’t a positive sign. You may be surprised to find that scaling back your training intensity can improve health, sporting longevity and overall performance.
What are some types of sports injuries?
The majority of sports injuries fall into two categories: ‘trauma’ (acute) injuries and ‘overuse’ injuries. Acute injuries include ligament sprains, muscle strains, fractures, dislocations and cramps. Overuse injuries are equally debilitating, including tendinitis or stress fractures that can put you out of the game for a long time.
On the plus side, sports science continues to evolve and adapt to changing demands. State of the art training equipment and cutting-edge medical procedures provide a physical and mental advantage like never before, and when coupled with the tried and tested reliability of Deep Heat products, preventing sports injuries and performing to the best of your ability is a very real possibility.