April 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. Indeed, you’re well equipped with the information to keep sports safe and enjoyable.

Raquetball PlayerThis 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 explaining why doing so isn’t the best choice.

  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. Yet, 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 sport, the need to do so exists for every athlete.
  3. Maintain a weak core. Every sport requires core muscles, so it makes sense to strengthen those to improve in your sport. Unfortunately, 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 good form can help prevent common injuries.
  5. Let kids be kids. Sports injuries occur most frequently in children ages 5-14, and most of those injuries involve collisions. So 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. Unfortunately, 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 also have the most consecutive training days without rest. Rest is as essential 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 hitting your sport hard on weekends too often leads to injury and fatigue that keeps 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 and restricting activity before moving on to applying ice, 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.