As more people engage in various sporting activities to have an active and healthy lifestyle, unavoidably the number of sports related injuries are also rising. Whether it’s a sprain, a bad fall or overusing your body, the simple message is ‘Prevention is better than Cure’.
There are 5 simple steps that anyone can follow to help prevent injuries:
1. Plan and prepare
Before beginning any new sporting activity, visit your regular doctor and discuss the suitability of your planned activities in accordance with your general health status and any co-existing health problems. Learn the proper techniques and use proper equipment such as protective gear or good shoes to help prevent injuries. You may want to get the help of a Personal Trainer to guide you on your fitness journey.
2. Warm up adequately and cool down
This is one of the most frequent causes of injury especially in those who are the occasional sports person or are returning after a lengthy lay-off.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of warming up. This may be about 10- 15 minutes of cycling, running and some basic stretches to warm the muscles and stretch ligaments, which gets them ready for action.
After your workout spend at least 10 minutes to cool-down and repeat your stretches as this is the best time to improve flexibility as muscles and ligaments are warmed up.
3. Don’t be in a rush
You can’t run a marathon in a day! Your body will need time to adapt to the new demands you are placing on it. It’s a cliché but it’s the journey not the destination that counts. Keeping a fitness diary can help chart your milestones and progress. You will be amazed at what you can achieve.
4. Listen to your body
Despite having a personal trainer or a doctor to advise you, only you will know how your body will feel after exercise. Mild aches are normal which should resolve after a couple of days. Severe pain or any numbness or tingling could be signs of serious injury. Consult your doctor if you are in doubt.
5. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Have realistic fitness goals and expect that there will be days when you will fall off the wagon. Set your goals and work towards achieving them but unless you are an elite level athlete, goals should be attainable, moderate and sustainable.
Are women more prone to certain injuries than men?
I’m frequently asked this question, and the simple answer is, Yes.
Studies have shown that women are 8 times more likely to suffer a torn anterior cruciate ligament of the knee following sports related injuries.
This is a serious ligament injury of the knee if left untreated can lead to long–term pain, arthritis and disability.
Female athletes are also more prone to bone damage such as stress fractures in endurance athletes and knee injuries like ACL through bending, running or jumping.
After puberty, women become more flexible while men gains more power through muscle mass. Without sufficient muscle to stabilize them, joints are at risk.
In a nutshell, with proper warm-up, cool-down and strength and conditioning programs, the risk of injury can be reduced greatly.
More about the Author
Dr. Jamal is a Consultant Orthopaedic & Trauma Surgeon, at the Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur Hospital. This is a comprehensive one-stop centre incorporating Orthopaedic, Physiotherapy and radiological services for the diagnosis and management of Orthopaedic, Trauma and Sports Injury cases.