Anyone, including children and teens, can experience sports-related injuries. For this reason, it's important to proper techniques and treat pain promptly. In this post, our Stittsville physiotherapists offer sports injury prevention tips and explain how sports injury prevention physiotherapy and rehab can help.
Tips to Prevent Sports Injuries
As kids and adults alike start warming up for spring and summer sports season, athletes of all ages are increasing their physical activity - and potentially their risk of sports-related injuries, including swollen muscles, Achilles tendon injuries, rotator cuff injuries, knee injuries and more.
Our physiotherapists in Stittsville often work with clients to help them prepare for the season ahead by creating a regular physical therapy routine to prevent sports injuries. We also work with people who have experienced acute and chronic sports-related injuries.
Here, we'll offer tips for sports injury prevention and discuss how our physiotherapists can help you develop a routine to prevent and rehabilitate from injuries.
1. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
No matter your age or athletic experience, sports place incredible physical demands on your body. Whether you're an adult athlete or a growing one, a well-balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and lean proteins is in order to give you the energy necessary to take on grueling practices and game days.
Safe eating habits and regular eating schedule are also important. Take time for breakfast, lunch and dinner at about the same time each day.
2. Warm up pre-practice and pre-season.
After a breakfast fit for an athlete, it's time to stretch before starting your sport or activity. Our physiotherapists usually recommend using a series of stretches, jumping jacks, toe stretches and other routines to get your body moving.
Your warm-up routine should involve at least 5 to 10 minutes of gentle cardiovascular exercise to help you break a sweat, in addition to lower-intensity, sport-specific movements to prepare you for the practice or game ahead.
3. Schedule your pre-season physical and physiotherapy assessment.
Two great ways to check your fitness (or that of your young athlete's) before heading to the court or field are to visit your doctor for a pre-season physical exam and check in with your Stittsville physiotherapist.
If an injury or condition is present, the pre-season physical or physiotherapy assessment may detect it, which means injuries - and the pain that often accompanies them - can be prevented from occurring or worsening.
4. Don't push through pain.
While you will feel your muscles stretch during practice and the game, it shouldn't hurt to play and pain shouldn't be a regular occurrence you or your child suffer through silently.
Speak to your doctor or physiotherapist about any pain you're experiencing, and make sure your child understands they should come to you if they are feeling "off" or not right. Early intervention can sometimes prevent serious injuries and conditions.
5. Incorporate a variety of sports and training activities.
While everyone has their favourite sports and activities, changing both of these up will keep you from putting stress on the same muscles and joints continuously.
Choose your sports sparingly and regularly alternate your exercise routine so different groups of muscles are being exercised.
6. Gear up with the proper equipment.
A pre-game and pre-season check of all sports equipment, including pads, shoes and helmets. These items are designed to help cushion falls and hits you may take during the game, but only if they are properly maintained and in working order.
Talk to your coach (or your kid's) before the game and make sure to get a list of safety equipment you'll need to wear to stay safe on the court, diamond or field.
7. Hydate, hydrate, hydrate.
During hot days of tough games and long practices, it's critical to drink enough water to avoid heat-related illness. Whether you're watching your child from the sidelines or jumping in on a game yourself, ensure you and your kid are drinking adequate water, before during and after the game.
Also, watch for any signs of heat-related illness, including confusion, nausea, fatigue, vomiting and fainting, in yourself, your children and your teammates.
8. Rest in between workouts and games.
While a large part of success in sports is ensuring you are physically fit and healthy, mental health and fitness are just as important. That's why it's important to make sure you and your child are getting the sleep you need to feel your best on the field and off.
Getting enough sleep also helps to prevent muscle fatigue, which predisposes athletes to injury. This can happen when go-getter athletes push themselves to stack up too many sports in a season and shortchange themselves on rest in the short-term and long-term (don't forget about taking a break and modifying your exercise routine during off-season).
9. Use proper exercise technique and follow guidelines.
Whether you're throwing a softball to a teammate, wrestling an opponent to the mat or making a tackle on the field, there are correct and incorrect ways of doing these things that can either increase or decrease risk of injuries to yourself and others.
At our physiotherapy clinic, we hear tails from clients often enough about "the one time" they didn't follow proper technique during an exercise routine or play - and paid for it with an injury that set them back or sidelined them for the season.
10. Recognize signs of injury and get help early.
Even minor injuries can progress to become serious health issues or lead to acute, painful injuries on the field if they aren't detected and treated soon after they occur. This is one of the reasons it's important to see a doctor and start physiotherapy if required early on.
Many athletes delay seeking healthcare or injury rehabilitation in favour of altering the way they do things and staying in the game in the short-term, this can have harmful long-term effects for your health.
If you or your child notice that you are throwing differently, favouring one leg while running (to avoid putting pressure on a pulled or muscle or sprain in the other leg) or throwing differently during practice, stop playing. If problems persist, see your doctor or physiotherapist for an assessment before resuming the activity.
Sports Injury Prevention & Rehab at MotionWorks Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Centre
Whether you or your kid play sports recreationally, in a league or at the masters level, or you are just aiming to maintain a fit and healthy lifestyle, sports injury treatment and prevention, in addition to pre-season preparation, are critical to any athlete's long-term health - and ability to play.
At our Stittsville physical therapy clinic, our team manages and treats acute and chronic sports injuries in athletes at all levels. We conduct pre-and post-season physiotherapy assessments to take a comprehensive look at muscle balances to ensure your body is working optimally. We can discuss any previous injuries or concerns with training, and work with you to develop a personalized sport-specific exercise program to reduce your risk of injury and help improve your performances.
Treatment techniques for sports injuries may include active exercises to restore strength, flexibility, balance and endurance, manual therapy, ultrasound to manage acute injuries, NeuroCryoStimulation to manage pain, swelling and edema, and more.