May is National Physiotherapy Month and with summer just around the corner, now’s the perfect time to talk about preventing summer sports injuries. A lot of people are now stepping up their level of physical activity and without taking steps to ensure safety, there’s an increased risk of injury. Sports injuries are often caused by poor form, ill-fitting equipment or insufficient warm-up. Without proper preparation you can suffer from pulled muscles, joint pain, ankle injuries, shoulder & back pain, knee injuries, foot pain and a wide variety of other common yet painful injuries. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. There are steps you can take to avoid injury during summer sports. Here are a few tips:
- START SLOW: This is especially true if you haven’t exercised in a while, but it applies to everyone. It’s important that you don’t just jump into intense physical activity without preparing yourself. This can mean starting off with a less intense sport or exercising for only 20-30 minutes a day before progressing into playing more intense sports for an hour or two at a time. It also means taking the time to properly warm up before sports.
- STRETCH & WARM UP: Stretching increases flexibility, which can help prevent injuries. Warming up increases blood flow and gives your muscles a chance to prepare for physical activity. Both are important for preventing injury and for performing better at your chosen sport. Don’t skip your warm up, no matter how tempting it may be. You’re risking injury by doing so.
- DRINK PLENTY OF WATER: It’s easy to get dehydrated while playing sports, especially in the summer. Drink both before and after exercise and keep a bottle of water nearby while you’re exercising. Water helps properly circulate nutrients in your body, helps flush out waste and reduces joint pain by keeping your cartilage soft and flexible. Drinking plenty of water also helps you perform better. If you’re planning on drinking a sports drink along with or instead of water, note that many sports drinks contain high amounts of sugar and calories. Always read the label before consuming these drinks. For many people, sticking to water is a better option.
- WEAR PROPER SHOES: Many people don’t even think about their footwear when playing sports. This is a big mistake. The wrong shoes can increase your risk of injury. It’s important that you wear shoes that provide your foot with proper support. It’s also important that you have your feet measured and that you wear shoes that are the right size and fit. Don’t just guess. Have someone measure your feet to be safe. Wear shoes that fit snugly, but that aren’t too tight. Remember that shoes from different companies will fit slightly differently. Arch support is also important. A good shoe will support your arches and ensure that your weight is distributed evenly across your foot. Chronic or complicated foot issues may require special inserts or orthotics to prevent injury.
- TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR FIRST: Before starting any new physical activity or sport, be sure to speak with a medical professional. Let your doctor know what type of activity you have planned and how often you plan to participate in this sport. He or she can inform you of any potential health risks and make sure that you are safe to play your chosen sport. By taking a few precautions, you can reduce your risk of injury during summer sports. Following the tips above will also increase your performance, so you’ll likely enjoy yourself more and get more out of your sport. Enjoy the summer!
If you, or someone you know, have suffered a sports related injury, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Remember, at Physiomed…Healthier Starts Here.