Research has shown that accidents and bad habits that lead to sports injuries can start in childhood.
“Practice makes perfect,” but even seasoned athletes can get into trouble pursuing their sport. And these initial accidents can lead to chronic problems, especially in certain areas prone to injury.
While certain sports injuries can be unique to certain endeavors, sports medicine experts say that any athlete can make the mistakes that lead to them.
Want to avoid being sidelined by accidents? Then read on to learn how to avoid sports injuries.
1. Warm Up First
No athlete is exempt from the need to loosen joints and lubricate muscles before getting to the main event. This includes weightlifters and strength trainers. But just as poor form and technique can cause injury when lifting, so can improper warm-ups.
As Curtis Mayweather knows, jumping rope at a moderate to brisk pace is a great warm-up. It elevates your heart rate and body temperature and even helps you to burn off body fat.
But to avoid injuries:
- always jump on a padded mat.
- don’t jump for more than five minutes.
- use an appropriately sized rope.
This basic exercise is a favorite of George Mitropetros, trainer for the television show Spartacus. Jumping jacks exercise core muscles, legs, and the heart. To avoid warm-up injuries:
- don’t jump for more than five or 10 minutes.
- use a padded mat.
- never jump to the point of tiredness.
Staying in place and moving limbs is a great way to warm up arm and leg muscles before lifting weights. Try forward, backward, and cross swings for your arms and legs. Do one set for each type of swing, with ten repetitions per arm and leg.
To avoid injuring yourself or others with this warm-up, select a flat and open area with lots of room.
Once you’ve properly warmed up, it’s time to move on to workouts and equipment. But even in a gym, careless athletes can get into trouble.
Statistics show that accidents involving workout equipment are increasing annually. What are some of the biggest culprits?
It doesn’t seem very menacing. But treadmills are the piece of gym equipment exercises are most likely to be injured on. Most mishaps involve falling off of or onto the tread itself.
To avoid injury:
- avoid distractions like reading, talking on phones, or watching movies.
- turn the treadmill off before mounting or dismounting.
- don’t increase speeds to levels beyond your ability.
The more weight you load on, the faster and heavier these weights want to come crashing down. The results can be a leg, shoulder, and back injuries, with torn rotator cuffs and herniated disks among them.
While it should take some effort to lift these weights if you have to visibly strain or struggle to do so, lessen the load before proceeding.
This is considered to be the single most dangerous piece of equipment in a gym. Thousands of serious and fatal accidents occur annually involving this piece of equipment. Injuries include broken teeth, shattered jaws, and crushed windpipes and sternum.
Shoulder, wrist, and back injuries are also very common among bodybuilders and other athletes with this piece of equipment.
The single biggest cause of these mishaps? The grip used when lifting on a bench press. Users should always use a full handed one that involves the thumb.
While some bodybuilders think that flaring elbows out when pressing can result in a bigger chest, this technique can do tremendous damage to shoulders. Instead, elbows should be held at an angle that is 75 degrees perpendicular to the body when lifting.
And while some lifters think that using mechanized bench presses are safer, they can damage shoulders because of the angle these presses follow. It’s safer for lifters to avoid these machines and manually bench press. As an added bonus, manual bench-pressing results in greater strength and muscle mass.
The leg press is probably a most controversial piece of workout equipment among fitness experts. Because of how this equipment is designed, it often leaves users with the illusion that they can handle extreme amounts of weight. Back injuries are a common result of leg press misuse.
Snapped bones in legs have also been reported. To avoid injury, never lock knees, place feet wide apart, and never rush through repetitions.
Bodybuilders actually get more leg muscle benefit from doing squats than using a leg pressing machine.
3. Other Tips to Avoid Sports Injuries
Always Use the Proper Exercising Form
Weightlifters are especially prone to sports injuries when the form isn’t followed. Improper form when lifting means the right muscle groups aren’t being targeted, either. Remember that proper breathing is as important as stance, lift, and grip.
Work with a Trainer
Using the services of these professionals means that you’ll be shown the right way to do exercises, use equipment, and put together effective training plans. Trainers can also serve as neutral observers of both your gains and trouble spots.
And should you suffer a sidelining injury, trainers can work with you to create rehabilitative programs to keep you from losing ground as you heal.
Frame of Mind
It can be hard to get motivated to work out some days, and you may have to push yourself to do so. But it’s never a good idea to train on days when you are ill, stressed, distracted, or angry. Working out under such circumstances can lead to exercisers making decisions that can injure themselves or others.
Finally, remember that any injury-free sports program begins with a trip to the doctor. This is especially important if you are age 35 or over, have had past medical problems, or have ongoing health issues.
Many teams, clubs, and gyms now require medical certification for membership in them. And with this clearance in hand, you can enjoy this participation with far fewer worries about sports injuries.