This post is part of The Ultimate Guide to Sports Medicine
Being active is essential to a happy and healthy life.
Whether you are a competitive athlete or you simply enjoy exercise, it’s important to make the right choices to prevent sports related injuries or even re-injury.
“A lot of sports related injuries can be prevented by following a few guidelines,” says OrthoIndy sports medicine physician Dr. Scott Gudeman. “If you want to avoid sitting on the sidelines, you have to listen to your body.”
Here are a few tips for preventing injuries or re-injury after treatment from Dr. Gudeman:
- Practice safe techniques for your sport: Follow the strategies for the specific motion you are trying such as properly throwing a baseball or lifting a weight. If you are unsure about how to properly perform a movement or your body is still feeling pain, ask a personal trainer or your coach for pointers.
- Wear recommended safety gear, even at practice: Make sure the equipment fits properly and is up to safety standards. Additionally, if any equipment feels worn—such your shoes—it’s time for an upgrade.
- Increase training gradually overtime: Too much activity, too fast often leads to injuries or re-injury after treatment. Listen to your body and take your time.
- Get a sports physical or yearly physical: Your doctor will let you know if you are healthy enough for exercise or to participate in a specific sport.
- Warm up and cool down: Light jogging and gentle stretching before and after activity helps your muscles increase flexibility, which means they are less likely to get injured. If you are returning from an injury, it’s important to focus extra stretching on that body part.
- Cross train: If you are a runner, try some strengthening exercises. If you only focus on weight lifting, mix in some cardio.
- Rest: Rest days from exercise and time off from playing a sport are just as important as properly training. Rest helps your body heal and also reduces the chance of overuse injuries.
- Listen to your trainer, doctor or physical therapist: If you are on a workout program from a professional, follow it. Don’t push yourself further. This is especially important if you are returning from an injury.
- Don’t play through the pain: Pain isn’t normal, and will make an injury worse. If you feel pain, rest for two weeks before returning to that activity. If pain persists, see a physician.
The best thing an athlete or active individual can do after an injury or experiencing pain is to immediately treat and pay attention to their injury at home. If that doesn’t work, a sports medicine specialist will determine the best course of treatment for the specific injury.
If you have an open wound, a concussion, a burn, an animal bite or you are bleeding go to an emergency room right away. OrthoIndy trauma physicians are located at the Trauma Center at St.Vincent Indianapolis, and there is a team of experts on call 24/7 to handle orthopedic traumas.
Learn more about sports medicine treatment at OrthoIndy.