Sports injuries are exceedingly common, and they affect people of all age groups. More than eight million people between the ages of five and 24 suffer a sports injury every year in the U.S. Bicycling injures about 426,000 Americans over the age of 25 every year, and seniors account for over 18 percent of the 378,000 annual injuries sustained during exercise.
Sports injuries can be devastating. Ten percent of the 1.7 to 3.8 million traumatic brain injuries each year in the U.S. arose due to sports and other recreational activities. Approximately 14.5 percent of all traumatic spinal cord injuries were caused by sports accidents as well.
Fortunately, the most common sports injuries are far less life-altering. These include sprains, strains, fractures, dislocations, damage to joints including the knee, shoulder and ankle, and damage to soft tissues such as muscles and tendons.
Fortunately, many common sports injuries can be totally prevented through proper precaution. Whether you’re an experienced athlete or just beginning a new exercise routine, taking a little precaution can potentially save you from the intense discomfort and high cost of a sports injury!
We are neither the first nor the last to advise drinking plenty of water. The Mayo Clinic recommends about 3.7 liters a day for men and 2.7 liters for women. Water intake for athletes is much higher at 5.7 liters daily for men and 4.0 liters for women.
In addition to preventing dehydration, increased water intake helps the body to avoid injury in several ways. Moisture in the body protects sensitive soft tissues while simultaneously lubricating and cushioning joints. Adequate hydration also allows you to sweat, which rids nearby soft tissues of wastes while keeping the body at a normal temperature.
Drinking ample amounts of water during exercise is crucial to avoiding heatstroke. This is a condition where the body temperature rises to at least 104 °F and which requires emergency treatment. Drinking plenty of water also helps to prevent heat exhaustion. Exhaustion is where the body may overheat simply because it cannot produce enough sweat.
Jack LaLanne once said this: “Fifteen minutes to warm up? Does a lion warm up when he’s hungry? ‘Uh oh, here comes an antelope. Better warm up.’ He just goes out there and eats the sucker.”
This was one of LaLanne’s few bad exercise tips – but not for the reason you might suspect. There is little to no actual evidence that stretching immediately prior to exercise can help to prevent a sports injury. Stretching regularly as part of a fitness routine, however, can pose several advantages.
Stretching promotes better circulation, improves posture and coordination, reduces muscle aches and pains, and enhances range of motion. All of these benefits of stretching can reduce a body’s chances of suffering a sprain or a strain. Better yet, stronger balance muscles can help you avoid taking a fall serious enough to send you to the hospital!
Use the RICE Method
A sprained ankle is an extremely common injury, even outside of sports. There are two million cases in the U.S. every year, and those are only the sprains which are reported.
The RICE method was developed to treat an ankle immediately after a potential sprain. Still, because the RICE method can help to prevent pain and accelerate healing, it may be viewed as a preventative measure of a sort. Do the following during the two to three days following the sprain to recover in greater comfort. Though, seek medical attention if pain and reduced mobility persist longer than three days.
- Rest – Gentle walking won’t necessarily slow down the healing process. But avoid playing sports or any other strenuous physical activity.
- Ice – Place an ice pack on the affected area every three to four hours while you’re awake for up to 20 minutes at a time. Do not place ice directly against the skin. Consult your doctor if you have a medical condition that impacts blood circulation.
- Compression – Keep your ankle wrapped in an elastic bandage. Take care not to wrap the bandage so tightly that it constricts circulation, and remove it if you feel numbness around or below your ankle.
- Elevation – Rest your ankle on an elevated surface, such as a pillow, as often as you are able and especially while you are sleeping.
Wear the Right Shoes
Never exercise or play sports in inappropriate footwear. If you have just returned home from work to find your kids playing basketball in the driveway, go inside to change into sneakers before joining them!
What constitutes appropriate footwear depends heavily on the sport you are playing. The padding, support and protection provided by basketball shoes are all designed specifically for basketball. Golf shoes, tennis shoes, and football, baseball and soccer cleats are all similarly designed to help the athlete perform at their best while avoiding injury.
While online shopping is rapidly becoming the norm, it is still better to try on a pair of athletic shoes before committing to wearing them. The staff at a shoe store can give you additional input as you hone in on the best shoes for your unique feet.
As proud team chiropractors for the NDSU football team, Drs. Mike Mosey, Kent Yohe and Joe Grausgruber are all standing by to help you stay in the game. Or even return to the game faster after you have sustained a sports injury. Please contact Fargo Spine today to schedule preventative or responsive chiropractic care in Fargo, ND!