Although some sporting injuries are unavoidable and just plain bad
luck, many can be avoided by sticking to the following guidelines:
1. Start slow
When starting a new sport or form of exercise, always ensure that you
start slowly and gradually increase the intensity, frequency and duration of
For example, it is common when people take up running to start with
running as far as they can manage, as fast as they can and increasing this
very quickly. This is a mistake and often leads to overuse injuries such as
shin splints. Instead, training should start gently with walk/jog sessions
and plenty of recovery time. As a general rule of thumb, distance (or time)
should not increase by more than 10% a week.
The same applies to all sports. Playing a full football match for
example, without training and previous match experience, will predispose the
individual to injuries, as fatigue is a common contributor to injury.
With any sport or exercise, it is important to use the right equipment
and to use it in the right way. For example, the use of shin guards in
soccer and rugby is recommended to avoid stud injuries to the shin bone.
Helmets are recommended when batting in Cricket and also sports such as
It is not only protective equipment that is important. In tennis, using a
racket which is too heavy or has a grip that is too small can result in
tennis elbow. Similarly a hockey stick that is too short may result in back
Even using incorrect footwear can result in injuries. Not only must the
footwear be right for the sport (i.e. running shoes for running, football
boots for football) but it must also be right for the individual, in terms
of size and fit, but also support. Some individuals may require more arch
support than others, if they have a fallen arch or the foot overpronates
(rolls inwards when walking/running). Not having the right support can
result in overuse injuries such as stress fractures and plantar fasciitis.
Following the rules is another good way of avoiding injury. Rules are
there to not only promote fair play, but also for the player’s safety. For
example, lifting the ball in normal play in hockey and football tackles with
the studs up are against the rules of the sport to protect the players
Performing a warm-up is recommended whatever type of sport or exercise
you are involved in. Starting with some light
cardio conditioning such as
jogging or skipping, followed by some stretches and then sport specific
drills helps to prepare the body for the more vigorous demands of the sport
It ensures that the muscles are warm and flexible. Cold, tight muscles
are more likely to tear. It also helps to improve hand-eye coordination and
reaction times. Again these are important in avoiding injuries as well as
5. Cool down and Recovery
After a match it is advised to perform a cool down. This will help to
flush away waste products such as lactic acid which cause muscle aching and
stiffness. A cool down will slowly reduce the heart rate to avoid blood
pooling in the limbs. Stretching after exercise will also help to reduce
stiffness and so promote faster
muscle recovery. The faster you recover, the
sooner you are ready to play again!
Ensuring you get adequate recovery and rest time is also important. It is
commonly said that improvements in strength and speed etc are actually made
when we are resting and this is true. It is in this time that the muscles
grow and repair.
Training or playing again too soon before your body has fully repaired
means that the muscles may not function correctly and will become fatigued
easily. This can result in injury. It has been shown that fatigued hamstring
muscles are more likely to tear!