The best injury protection techniques, 2017

Playing sports, whether professionally or as an amateur, is one of the best ways to remain healthy and active. The upside of participating in team sports or training for competition is the close-to-perfect physique that is the result of hard work and effort, in addition to taking skill levels into the stratosphere. However, the responsibility that goes along with extreme athletic performance is proper care of the well-tuned machine that is the body. Even more important for serious athletes is the need to protect the body from injury, which is always a serious threat.

Athletes, more than any other people, are exposed to the threat of injury just by nature of their participation in sports. Football players spend the majority of time tackling or avoiding being tackled, which can result in broken bones and strained limbs. By virtue of having to move quickly, basketball players risk exposure to muscle strains. Long-distance runners wear out the cartilage in their joints through constant use of their legs, in addition to being at risk of straining muscles. The list goes on in naming the various sports and injury types that athletes are exposed to when participating in sports. Every time an athlete participates in any given sport, there is a chance for injury, and this is why taking preventative steps is necessary to avoid injury.

Two factors predispose an athlete to injury. The first is if the person already has an injury, as chronic strains are problematic for athletes. The second relates to the number of consecutive training days. High recovery days, or rest days, are associated with reduced injuries because rest contributes to the repair of strained muscles and connective tissues.

Tips for preventing injuries

Spend a few minutes stretching, warming up, and cooling down. One should never go into a workout without stretching beforehand and cooling down after. Additionally, the first 15 to 20 minutes of a workout should be spent warming up. For one, both stretching and warming-up exercises prepare the body and the muscles for intense exercise or play. Those who dislike stretching might try yoga or Pilates, which focus on strength and flexibility, and then incorporating some of these exercises within their warm-up or cool-down routines.

Wear appropriate and protective clothing. Mouth guards, helmets, pads, in addition to a number of other protective gear are essential for protecting athletes against injury, especially in contact sports. When working out or playing a sport, make sure that clothing is comfortable, fits properly, and provides adequate support to avoid injury. While sweats and other sporting paraphernalia look stylish and might be comfortable, when competing in sports or playing for fun, compression gear such as that from gives athletes the needed support to avoid injury.

Respect the technique. Everyone wants to look flashy while dunking that basketball or impressing the crowd with complicated gymnastic moves, but the best athletes and teams have mastered the fundamentals. Whatever the exercise, make sure to use proper technique to avoid injury, and more significantly, to improve skill.

Do not overexert yourself. Especially for ex-high school or college athletes who were used to performing skillfully in their chosen sport, it is important to not max out in the workout when first training. Start with a workout that is appropriate and that does not cause muscle strain or injury.

Do not overtrain. The logical thing to do is to train every day to ensure that the body remains conditioned. However, the body and muscles need rest to avoid strain from overuse. This is especially true for those who participate in marathons, triathlons, or any sport that requires high-intensity training.

Do not add too much weight when weight training. Again, this is one of those situations where regardless of the strength level, returning athletes or those looking to bulk up should add weight slowly to avoid injury.

Do not play if you have an injury. Because pain is an indication that there is a problem, playing with an injury can exasperate the problem. Do not ignore pain hoping that the injury will go away.

The first step to great physical fitness begins with the fundamentals, which include stretching, warming up and cooling down, and proper technique. The exhilarating feeling that happens at the end of a workout and that intense moment when sweat covers the body and the mind is almost in a euphoric trance is the culmination of the hard work and effort that it takes to play or train at that level of intensity. This feeling is even more intensified when the workout is pain and injury free.