How to prevent sports injuries

While it’s reassuring to know that The Forge Clinic will be on hand to help, there is a lot you can do to reduce of your risk of getting injured.

Sports injuries are often caused by not warming up properly, pushing yourself too far, poor technique or inappropriate equipment.

You can reduce the chances of sustaining a sports injury by warming up properly, knowing your limits, using the right equipment and learning correct body alignment and techniques.

Get the right equipment

It’s important that you use the correct clothing and equipment for your chosen sport or exercise to avoid injury. For some sports, such as cricket or hockey, it’s essential to wear the right protective gear such as shin pads, a mouth guard or padded gloves. Make sure your equipment is well maintained and the correct size and weight for you as this can reduce the risk of injury too.

Choose the right footwear

No two people are the same, so you need to make sure your shoes suit you and your activity. A key factor in your choice of sports shoes will be your own biomechanics (the mechanics and structures involved with movement of the human body). At the Forge Clinic, we can assess your foot type and your running style and suggest appropriate shoes which fit you correctly. You should replace your trainers regularly as the treads and heels wear down.

Warm up and cooling down properly

A good warm-up will increase your heart rate, increase circulation to your muscles, tendons and ligaments making them more flexible and reduce the risk of tears or injury. Begin with a gentle jog (or similar cardiovascular activity) to get the heart pumping and the muscles warmed. You should then
 do some light stretching of the major muscle groups you’ll be using.

At the end of the exercise or sporting activity, it is vital to cool down, by gently exercising or stretching for 5-10 minutes. This will alleviate muscle ache and stiffness leaving you refreshed for the next time you work out or play sports.

Fuel your body correctly

It’s important for everyone to have a healthy and balanced diet. This is especially the case if you are exercising regularly as it will ensure you have the energy you need and that your body has what it requires to rebuild muscle tissue and keep bones as healthy as possible.

Stay hydrated

When participating in any sports or physical activity it is important to drink fluids before, during and after. Dehydration can harm your performance, so you’re at increased risk of injury.

Build up your exercise

Avoid throwing yourself into any exercise too quickly. Allow your body the chance to adapt and then increase intensity, time or distance gradually.

Timetable rest time

Allow yourself breaks and rest days. This will give your body the chance to recover and prevent fatigue and injury.

Get fit for your sport

Learn the correct body alignment and technique

Moving correctly when playing sport can reduce the risk of injury. For example, body alignment is very important when learning the kicking technique in rugby or football, as a lot of pressure gets put on your supporting leg. You can get expert advice and specific muscle strengthening exercises from your sports therapist.

Strengthen the muscles you use most in your preferred sport.

Footballers should work on strengthening the hip and leg muscles; lower limb alignment when running, kicking and changing direction and building a strong, stable core (the muscles of your back, stomach and groin).

Runners can lower their risk of developing Achilles tendonitis by regularly strengthening and stretching the calf muscles.

If your sport involves a lot of overhead movement – swimming, tennis, volleyball, basketball, weightlifting and goalkeeping – you’re more at risk of dislocating your shoulder. To prevent shoulder injuries, you should ensure you exercise the joint regularly, even during the off season.

Cyclists can suffer a painful condition called hip bursitis. Regular stretching of the hip will keep them in good condition, help them to glide more easily and reduce the risk of bursitis.

Listen to your body

Pain is there for a reason and it is our bodies way of communication an issue. If you are experiencing pain it is best not to ignore it and more importantly do not push through the pain.

Get expert specialist advice and training

Our Sports Injury Therapists at The Forge Clinic, Richmond can advise you specific exercises and strategies to maximise your performance and prevent injury. To book a consultation please call us on 020 8332 6184 or email info@theforgeclinic.com. You can also book online.

Further reading

Common injuries associated with different sports
Running injuries