Sports represent a healthy way to stay in shape, enjoy socialization with friends and family, and provide an effective outlet for stress. Nothing else in life compares to the invigorating and stimulating enjoyment that comes from participating in sports. As you play, however, you may develop some pain or injuries that prevent you from fully enjoying your sports activity. When this happens, a negative spiral can occur. The suddenly sedentary life may lead to weight gain, mood swings or depression, or feelings of hopelessness. If you choose to ignore doctor’s advice and play anyway, your small injury could turn into something that keeps you on the sidelines longer, or worse, require surgical intervention.
How Do Most Injuries Occur?
Many things can contribute to sports injuries. One of the most common contributing factors that physical therapists encounter is that of the “weekend warrior.” The weekend warrior is a term for a person who leads a relatively sedentary existence during the work week, but who gives it all they have on the playing field on the weekends. While the term warrior has strong connotations, it’s not smart to suddenly test and strain your body in fits and starts only on the weekends. You would be better off to participate in moderate exercise during the week so that your body has a more level pace of activity.
Other injuries occur from poor gear choices. It’s important to wear the right equipment for the right sport. Tennis shoes, for example, are designed to support the foot and ankle for the quick side-to-side footwork that occurs on the court. Running shoes are manufactured so that the impact of your body hitting pavement is somewhat absorbed and doesn’t injure your skeletal system.
Finally, many injuries occur because people neglect to warm up before practice and play. Your muscles, tendons, ligaments and other tissues need to be warmed up and trained first in order to work properly. They take enormous strain during running and sports activities.
You May Be More Prone to Injury as You Age
While age should not prevent you from participating in your favorite sports, you do need to consider the physical limitations that come with age. As you get older, your tissues become less elastic and less flexible. It would be foolish for anyone to think they can perform at age 60 the same as they did at age 26. However, exercising consistently, warming up before exercise, and keeping hydrated can help. When your muscles, tendon and ligament tissues have enough water, they become more supple and flexible, allowing you to do more activities safely.
How to Avoid Pain and Prevent Injury
With a little bit of preparation, you can easily do these activities and decrease your risk for injury.
- Stretch before practice and play
- Maintain or increase strength training
- Practice eye-hand coordination with drills
- Maintain or increase endurance with training
It is important to do sports activities, fitness and a host of other physical activities to keep you healthy and happy. Knowing the right exercises to do to prepare for fitness activities is key. Our physical therapists have years of experience helping people rehabilitate after injuries and return to the activities they enjoy. What some people might not know is that physical therapists can help put a specific exercise plan together based on your needs to prevent injury. If you do start to experience pain with activities, we can get you back to enjoying your activities, pain-free. Contact Washington Physical Therapy today to learn more about how we can help you get back in the game!