Whether you play at a community sports level or as an elite athlete, here are 6 injury prevention techniques to ensure you can maintain optimal performance whilst taking care of your health and safety.
- Warm up
Before doing any form of rigorous exercise you should always ensure that you have a proper warmup routine that includes adequate stretching. Warming up the body aids in sports injury prevention as it ensures that blood is flowing to an area, thus lowering the chances of pulling a muscle or injuries to your tendons. Warming up not only helps prepare the body for the upcoming physical activity that your body will go through but it can also help with recovery by maintaining the overall health of your muscles and making your body more injury resistant during the workout. A dynamic warmup is great for enhancing sports performance as you gradually increase the speed and intensity of your exercises as you warmup. This could be some leg swings, arm swings and side bends.
- Cool down
After completing the rigorous physical activity, cooling down helps lower the body temperature and gets the heart rate back to normal. It is also effective for sports injury prevention as it helps the muscles in recovery by continuing the delivery of oxygen to your muscles post-workout. This can include some light aerobic activity and stretching. Stretching improves the range of motion of your joints and increases muscle performance. However it is important to stretch safely and effectively by not pushing your body so far that it becomes painful. Stretches should be sustained for 10-30 seconds to properly relax the muscles and you should feel some tension, but not pain.
- Using appropriate sporting equipment
Using sports-specific shoes that fit properly. If you are playing a sport that requires safety equipment such as mouth guards, helmets and protective padding ensure that you wear these as instructed to prevent serious sporting injuries.
If you know that you have vulnerable or weak muscles and joints, ensure that these are properly taped or strapped before any physical activity to help prevent further long-term damage on that area.
- Joint mobilization techniques
Joint mobilization is effective in sports injury prevention as it ensures optimal performance of joint movements to aid in reducing stiffness and pain. A skilled physiotherapist would be able to quickly assess your joints and identify if anything is out of the ordinary such as painful, stiff, and hypermobile joints.
- Strength and conditioning exercises
Developing a specific and highly individualized fitness plan that includes a varied range of exercises such as cardiovascular exercise, strength training, flexibility and mobility is effective in increasing sporting performance and sports injury prevention. For example, if you play a sport that requires a lot of jumping and landing such as basketball and netball, you can incorporate balance and mobility exercises to improve your landing technique and reduce the injury risk associated with improper landing technique. Other strength and conditioning exercises that can prevent injuries and ensure your safety on the courts and fields include quad, knee and calf strengthening exercises such as:
- Calf raises
- Single leg squats
- Side lying leg raises
- Glute bridges
- Hamstring curls
- Explosive bodyweight movements
- Agility exercises such as sprints
Ensure that you are gradually increasing your load and progression as you progress through these exercises.
Exercise physiologists and physiotherapists can be instrumental in safeguarding an athletes’ health and safety. With evidence-based exercises, education, and resources, they can assist athletes with an appropriate sport injury prevention program to prevent future problems.
No matter where you are – in the clinic or online, our expert physiotherapy team will always be there to help you achieve your goals. Book a consultation today with one of our highly skilled physiotherapists or call 9091 1739 to ensure you are achieving optimal performance with minimal risk of sporting injuries.