Sports InjuriesTop 5 Ways to Prevent Sports Injuries

5 Simple Ways to Prevent Injury in Sports
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By Heidi Mills


Although some sporting injuries are unavoidable and just plain bad luck, many can be avoided by sticking to the following guidelines:

1. Start slowStart 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 the activity.

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.



2. EquipmentUse proper Equipment

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 American football.

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 pain.

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.

Follow the Rules


3. Rules

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 safety.


4. Warm-upWarm Up

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 itself.

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 improving performance!


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!


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Top 5 Ways to Prevent Sports Injuries by:
Sports Injury Clinic

Heidi Mills, BSc (Hons) GSR
For more information on sporting injuries, prevention and rehabilitation, visit



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