13 Ways to Suffer a Preventable Sports Injury

Sports injuriesApril is Sports Injury Prevention Month. In April 2013, we talked about “Promoting Youth Sports Safety by giving 10 suggestions to help in that effort. In April 2012, we encouraged you to “Make Eye Safety Your Goal During Sports Injury Prevention Month.” Certainly, you’re well equipped with the information to keep sports safe and enjoyable.

This year, let’s look at the flip side of preventing sports injuries by telling you 13 ways to suffer a preventative sports injury and then explain why doing so isn’t the best choice.Raquetball_Player

  1. Leave eyes unprotected. Only 35% of those surveyed by the American Academy of Ophthalmology said they always wear protective eyewear when doing yard work or playing sports. Of the 40,000 eye injuries each year during these activities, more than 90% can be prevented with protective eyewear.
  2. Never warm-up or stretch. While the best method for warming up and stretching varies by individual and by sport, the need to do so exists for every athlete.
  3. Maintain a weak core. Every sport requires the use of core muscles, so it makes sense to strengthen those in order to improve in your sport. Maintaining weak core muscles also limits an athlete’s success.
  4. Ignore proper form. Most basketball injuries occur from players landing improperly on their feet. This is just one example of how learning proper form can help prevent common injuries.
  5. Let kids be kids. Sports injuries actually occur most frequently in children ages 5-14, and most of those injuries involve collisions. Perhaps forcing safety habits on kids isn’t such a bad idea.
  6. Only consider safety during games. Since there are more practices than games, it seems logical that more injuries happen during practices than during games. For this reason, always remember to practice safety so you can play safely.
  7. Skip skill levels. While challenging yourself is a good idea, going too far beyond your skill level isn’t. Know your abilities and challenge yourself sensibly.
  8. Ignore the rules. Rules bring organization to sports. They also serve to protect players. Ignoring the rules only brings chaos and injury.
  9. Refuse to wear safety gear. While preventing every sports injury is impossible, About.com says research suggests a reduction in injuries by 25% simply by taking preventative measures. These measures include wearing safety gear that is appropriate for your sport.
  10. Over-train & neglect recovery time. Athletes with the most injuries are also those with the most consecutive days of training without rest. Rest is as important to any athlete’s success as talent and performance.
  11. Play through pain & fatigue. Pain means there’s a problem. Fatigue leads to poor judgment. Both usually result in longer recovery from an injury or overuse than had you stopped and rested at the first sign of pain and fatigue.
  12. Be a weekend warrior. Neglecting regular workouts and then hitting your sport hard on weekends too often leads to injury and fatigue that puts you out of commission indefinitely. Instead, exercise consistently during the week and still enjoy weekend activities.
  13. Stick with just the ICE method for recovery. Instead, convert to the PRICE method for recovery. This method begins with protection from further injury along with restricting activity before moving on to applying ice, applying compression, and elevating.

The best way to continue enjoying your sport on the field rather than just on the sidelines involves employing habits to prevent injury. You’ll also find more success and longevity as an athlete when you make safety, prevention and common sense a part of your training program.

Promoting Youth Sports Safety

Youth FootballNo one likes sustaining a sports injury. But worse yet, especially for a parent, is when a child gets injured. Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to prevent this sometimes heart-dropping experience. And with April being Youth Sports Safety Month, now is a great time to look at how to prevent sports injury in our youth.

First, parents must realize that rarely do kids think they will get injured. If anything, our children believe they are invincible and beyond any serious injury. This realization makes the point that youth safety must start with parents and coaches. Kids are concerned about having fun while playing sports. Our job is to make sure they learn how to be safe doing it.

The following 10 suggestions will help you in your efforts to promote Youth Sports Safety.

  1. Think prevention. Proper equipment, hydration and conditioning team up to prevent the majority of sports injuries.
  2. Go organized. Utilize the organized sports programs in your area. They usually have coaches who are educated in and promote the importance of sports safety.
  3. Protect eyes. Often a forgotten piece of equipment, protective sports eyewear can not only prevent serious injury from impact, it can also protect eyes from sunburn (Yes, your eyes can get sunburn).
  4. Get evaluated. If an injury does take place, especially one involving the head and neck, see a physician as soon as possible, making sure to get the okay before returning to sports activities.
  5. Learn the rules. Knowing the rules of a specific sport can go a long way to reducing and eliminating injury. The rules are in place not only to bring structure to sports, but safety as well.
  6. Avoid overuse. Many sports now have year-round training programs. For this reason overuse injuries can become a big problem and one that often does not show up until adulthood. Be sure children cross train and get variety in their exercise.
  7. Get a good fit. Safety equipment can actually be harmful if it doesn’t fit properly. While hand-me-downs may save money in expensive sports gear, that savings may disappear into expensive health care for an injury if the gear does not fit properly. Choosing children’s safety glasses that are made to fit smaller faces is one example.
  8. Consider the elements. Heat can cause dehydration more quickly. Sunburn can sideline. Lightning can cause tragedy. Know the expected weather conditions, and be prepared with appropriate protection and alternate plans.
  9. Insist on rest. Make sure kids get regular time off to let their bodies rest and recuperate. Also make sure they get adequate sleep regularly. Depending on their age and activity level, kids need anywhere from 8-12 hours a sleep every night.
  10. Remember RICE. When an injury does take place, remember Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation as the first line of defense for treating most sports injuries.

Healthline reports that over 20 million kids participate in sports every year and about a million of those suffer serious injury. Healthline also report the following facts regarding those injuries:

  • Sports-related injury accounts for 41% of musculoskeletal injuries in kids age 5-21 years.
  • Most sports injuries occur in 13 year olds.
  • Sprains, strains, overuse injuries and fractures are the most common youth sports injuries.
  • Basketball, track, baseball, gymnastics, and swimming are the most common sports seeing overuse injuries.
  • 300,000 brain injuries per year are sports related.
  • 20% of football players sustain traumatic brain injuries.
  • 8% of spinal cord injuries are sports injuries.
  • Children are especially vulnerable to extremes of temperature, which has led to death from heat stroke.

In addition to the above tips, a variety of excellent resources exist online for preventing youth sports injuries. Those resources include Stop Sports Injuries and the Injury Free Coalition for Kids. Use these and the many other resources available to keep our kids healthy and strong and to help them enjoy playing sports for a lifetime.