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  • Writer's pictureAmy Dougley

Can sports injuries be prevented?

Whether you are a weekend warrior or high performance athlete, sports injuries can happen in the blink of an eye. All of a sudden your season is ruined by a silly play or accident on the field or you are feeling sore after the game, and not sure if you should participate again soon. Although sports injuries are not 100% preventable, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of sports injuries happening, and ruining your season.

Why Do Injuries Happen?

Strengthening and conditioning your muscles and joints properly is the best way to prevent sports injuries. However, even the most conditioned athletes can still get injured. Sports injuries happen when the muscle or joint you are using is not prepared properly for the event or activity. Just like preparing for a big exam, you need to do your homework and perform the strength and conditioning exercises for the sport you are involved in.

Each tissue in your body (muscles, bones, ligaments, etc) has a "breaking strength" and if your muscle or joint is moved beyond that point (twisting your ankle, etc) you end up injured. In some cases, it can be minor, such as a ligament sprain, but in other cases it can be catastrophic, such as a dislocation or complete tear. It all depends how far beyond the tissue's "breaking strength" the tissue is pushed.

The good news is that you can increase the "breaking strength" of your body's muscles, joints and ligaments by performing proper exercises that train your body's tissues to remain strong even when they are in vulnerable positions. This type of training is known as Functional Range Conditioning, and is very effective at increasing the "breaking strength" of your muscles and joints so that you can withstand more impact and prevent injuries. It is a scientifically based program, performed by trained specialists that can take your athletic ability to the next level. Typically performed by Chiropractors, it is a system of diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation that can fast track you back onto the field and provide you with ways to reduce injury risk in the future.

4 Things You Can Do To Prevent Injuries or Speed Recovery If You Are Already Injured:

1. See A Chiropractor

Chiropractors are able to help with all kinds of aches and pains and if you are an athlete it should be part of a regular care regimen that helps maintain the health of your muscles and joints. A chiropractor trained in treating sports injuries, specifically someone who is trained in Functional Range Conditioning, would be the best professional to find and see on a regular basis. This will help increase the "breaking strength" of your tissues and if you do get injured, you will already have a professional you can trust to get you back to playing quickly.

2. Focus on your nutrition

Our bodies are continually breaking down old cells and forming new ones in their place. This is particularly true, when we get injured. A torn muscle or ligament begins healing immediately after the injury when all kinds of biochemicals flood the injured area. This is how swelling occurs and why acute injuries can be quite painful.

It is important to eat foods that help reduce inflammation and drink lots of quality (not tap) water in order to reduce pain and swelling. These simple nutritional recommendations along with ice and rest can help you get through the acute phase of an injury.

Drinking plenty of water and eating well is also helpful on an ongoing basis in order to give your body the nutrients it needs to perform at its peak. High level athletes consume only the highest quality foods because, after all, we are what we eat.

3. Get enough sleep

Sleep is vital for our bodies healing process. When we are sick, we are told to get lots of rest. The same is true after an injury. It is also true in order to maintain your health so you can perform at your peak and reduce the chance of injury. Sleep helps us focus and be alert, therefore if you are tired on the field, you may make a silly play or mistake that could result in injury.

Ideally we should get about 8 hours of sleep per night. Before going to bed, turn off your phone, tablet or TV so that you can fall asleep easier. Make sure your mattress is supportive for your body type and use a good quality pillow. Also avoid sleeping on your stomach as this can lead to spinal problems down the road. All of these suggestions can help you get a goods night rest so that you can perform optimally and avoid injuries on the field.

4. Don't neglect your mental health

Sports injuries, especially concussions, can have an effect on our mental health. So can the pressures of competing in sports and everyday life occurrences. If an athlete becomes depressed or anxious, this can result in prolonged healing from injuries and in some cases increase frequency of injury.

Our mental health is fragile and events that we think didn't bother us, can actually change our mental health and negatively impact our future. If a traumatic sports injury occurs, the athlete might feel apprehensive about returning to play and their emotions surrounding how they were injured can interfere with their performance when they do step onto the field again. It is vital to see a trained therapist who can work with individuals surrounding these feelings so that they can heal from their injuries and feel confident when returning to play.

Final Thoughts

Preventing sports injuries requires a comprehensive approach. The physical and mental health needs of the athlete must be met in order to properly prevent sports injuries. However, no matter how well we take care of ourselves, competing in sports comes with the risk of getting injured. Following the guidelines in this blog can help reduce the chance of injury as well as speed up healing if you have sustained an injury already. Help is only a phone call away! Talk to us today at 519-751-0728.

Dr. Spenser Dougley DC, FR, FRCms

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