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10 Tips for Avoiding Injury During Sports Play

Jan 9, 2008
Playing sports is a lot of fun. It's one of the most exhilarating activities that you can do. Not only is it fun, though; it's also healthy.

Playing sports can also be a form of body and mind exercise. It can strengthen your muscles and your bones. It also improves your thinking abilities since sports activities hone your mind in matters of strategy and technique.

In fact, playing sports is such a great activity that it can even improve your personality in the aspects of fairness and good sportsmanship. However, that's not to say that there are no downsides to playing sports.

Playing sports can be quite dangerous especially if you're inexperienced. If any accidents occur when you're playing sports, the effects can range from mild to serious. You can either get a minor bruise, a moderately severe sprain, or an injury that you will have to live with for the rest of your life. You might even sustain an injury that could cost you your life. So, it's quite important to know how to avoid these sports injuries in the first place.

The Proper Gear

The first thing to do when you play sports is to prepare all the equipment that you will need. Your equipment includes not only the balls, the nets and such necessary implements but also your protective equipment.

For example, in football (which is arguably one of the roughest sports) there are a lot of protective gears that you need to put on. The first and probably the most important one is the helmet which is protection for your head or your cranium.

Helmets differ depending on the sport you're going to play. Football helmets are much bulkier than other helmets. For one thing, football helmets are complete with a face guard and they almost completely cover the head.

There are other protective equipment like ankle guards, shoulder pads, shin guards, mouth guards, and knee caps. All of these are designed to protect the important parts of the body from any injury.

If you participate in football, chances are high that you'll be falling a lot. All these pads cushion your body whenever you fall or forcibly collide with another player. They therefore help in preventing bone fractures or sprains. Such equipment may be bulky and heavy and they might prevent you from moving freely but, then again, isn't it always better to be safe than sorry?

Get a Physical

You need to consult with your doctor before you become active in any sports activity. Get a physical exam. This is a precautionary activity that is usually required of professional athletes. It wouldn't hurt to follow their example even if you only plan on playing football with your weekend buddies.

Warm Ups

Before doing anything strenuous, you have to warm up your body. Some people forgo doing warm-ups because they think that it's too troublesome; they're too impatient and want to get into the game the game immediately.

But this shouldn't be so. Warm-ups are incredibly important because they condition the body for the work-out that it's going to receive. Also, contrary to what other people think, warm-ups don't necessarily mean stretching. In fact, stretching should be saved until after you've warmed your body up a little since if you stretch yourself too much, you might end up tearing a few ligaments.

The first thing that you should do when you're warming up is to take a light jog. Then, when you're done, start stretching your muscles starting from the head down. You can start by rotating your neck, then your shoulders, then your arms, then your waist, your hips, your legs, and then your foot. Sixteen counts on each body part should do.

All in all, warm-ups should last for 15 to 30 minutes. Stretching helps by improving the blood circulation in the said body parts and also by increasing the body's temperature. That way, once you get into the field, your body will be more than ready to accommodate all the strenuous tasks that it will have to do.

Strength Training and Bodybuilding Exercises

If you want to be in top form when you play, your body must be in top form, too. Aside from giving you the required energy for sports, though, a well-honed body is also more resilient, more flexible and, therefore, less susceptible to sports injuries. Therefore, you should have strength training and regular bodybuilding exercises.

Practice

To avoid sports injuries, you'd do well to be good in your chosen sports. Thus, you'd better practice, practice and practice some more. Of course, do not do this without proper supervision. If no one qualified is there to supervise, no one would be able to tell you whether what you're doing is right or wrong.

Following Rules

Rules are there for a reason. Usually, they're qualified into two: rules made for scores or points and rules made for common courtesy. You see, some sports can be dangerous and there are some rules that are put in there for the sake of minimizing injuries and accidents.

Some rules in football that are focused on safety involve the types of blocking and tackling. If you block the opponent by grabbing him by his face mask, then your move will be considered illegal. Also, there's a rule that prohibits tackling from behind and tackling using the top of your helmet. These rules are made for the official football league but they should also be used in informal games.

Safe Venue

Of course, when you play sports, you have to choose a safe place to play. When you're playing rough contact sports like football, it's best if you choose to play on a grass field. It won't help if you play on concrete because if some accident does happen, falling on the cold, hard concrete will only make the fall harder.

Body Mechanics

When playing sports, you should employ what's called "body mechanics". Body mechanics maximizes your body's potential for movement even as it minimizes the stress that it sustains.

For example, when jumping, make sure to bend or flex your knees to lessen the chance of joint dislocation when you land. Learn all about the techniques that can make falling easier and less severe on your body.

Constant Awareness

Also, when you play sports, you must constantly be aware of what's happening around you. It won't help if you're not cooperating with your teammates.

For example, if two of you are trying to catch the ball, pay attention or you might crash into each other. If someone's planning to tackle you, try to dodge. Evading is way better than getting hit since the latter leads to injuries.

Muscle Straining

It's inevitable that your muscles will start to hurt when you play. Muscle pain is oftentimes normal, but that doesn't mean that you have to ignore it. Never play through the pain because it will aggravate your condition. Take a break when your muscles start hurting. Rest the body part that hurts. It will also help if you elevate it. For example, if your leg is hurting, prop it up on a pillow or two.

It's perfectly understandable to want to get right back in the game after you've sustained an injury especially if it's an important game. But you have to remember that safety always comes first. If you disregard your injuries, it might get worse and the damage might become irreversible.

Sports are fun and all but that doesn't mean that you have to give up your body in order to play them. Remember that there are things that are more important in life, like your own safety and wellbeing. Be wise when playing sports, have fun but don't let it cloud your judgment.
About the Author
John is the author of a top-selling flag football plays book. Visit http://www.usaflagfootball.com to find out more.
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