Tips for Avoiding Sports Injuries

Avoiding injuries is one of the most important ways athletes can stay on top of their game. Incorporating a proper warm up and cool down routine as well as taking a real break between workouts to rest are just some of the ways injuries can be prevented.

What are the most common causes of injuries among athletes at all levels?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Some of the most common injuries that we see within sports are those classic injuries such as tennis or golf elbow, a lot of hamstring or groin strain, and then knee injuries such as ACL tears, and concussions. They can be caused by a varying kind of nature. Obviously, trauma to the joint can obviously cause injuries, such as a concussion or an ACL tear. What we find a lot of is a lot of repetitive stress, as you’re doing the same thing over and over. When the joint loses its range of motion, we create some poor loading into the joint and the tissue, which over time, breaks the joint and the tissue down, which can then lead to those soft tissues injuries that we see a lot of, those hamstring strains, those groin strains.

What can a chiropractor do to help athletes avoid sports injuries?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Chiropractors can really help with decreasing the risk of sports injuries in a number of ways, but the main reason for me is that chiropractors can restore and/or maintain full range of motion within a joint. There’s non-contact trauma injuries that we just touched on, such as those muscle pulls and tears. They happen over an accumulation of time, months. Full, healthy, stable range of motion is lost within a joint. The body starts to compensate, specifically the soft tissue muscles linked to tendons. And as we, over time, load this tissue inappropriately, it increases the chance of injury, again especially in that soft tissue.

Can taking a day off and resting between workouts help avoid injuries?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Absolutely. Rest, and most importantly, good recovery between training is paramount. If we’re over-training, it has a negative effect upon both the body and the athlete’s performance.

Does maintaining proper form and body positioning during a workout help prevent injuries?

Dr. Luke Stringer: Certainly. Poor technique and/or poor form through a movement or an activity can really increase the chance of injury. For example, poor warmup, poor warming up or cooling down protocols can increase the chance of injury. For example, not performing an aerobic warmup with some dynamic stretching before we go to lift weights, for example, can move the body cold, per se, which can certainly increase the chance of being injured.

I do think you just touched on this, but how do proper warmup and cool down techniques help prevent injuries?

Dr. Luke Stringer: A good warmup before any training session should include a variety of things, specifically an activity that raises our heart rate, and by doing this, blood and oxygen will be pumped around the body, and feed the muscles that are going to be used. And this should always be followed up with some dynamic mobility, where the muscles are intended to be used are stretched, and moved through all planes and ranges of motion. And a good activation routine should be used to activate all the stabilizing muscles within the joints. For example, if you’re going to do an upper body workout using some bands, to take the shoulder through range of motion and really switch on those stabilizing joints. Make sure they’re nice and stable before we go and lift.

And then, a cool down is super important too. This should combine a light, aerobic movement, again to help with blood and oxygen flow around the body. This will help expel any of the byproducts from exercise, such as lactic acid, which aids for a faster recovery, and a good deep static stretch to restore good range of motion within the tissue and the joint.

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