It is every athlete's worst nightmare, you work hard and train for months in the offseason to prepare for the season. Finally, the time comes for all your hard work to pay off, and then out of nowhere, you're forced to sit on the sidelines with an injury.
All of those hours in the gym for nothing and all the prospects for a successful season gone. Every year millions of athletes are forced to deal with this harsh reality and have their dreams crushed.
So how can you minimize your chances of dealing with a season-ending injury?
What are the most common and devastating types of sports injuries?
- Joint injuries such as ankle sprains, knee sprains, tennis elbow, and more.
- Ligament and tendon tears such as ACL, MCL, Meniscus, and Achilles tears.
- Muscle strains such as hamstring or quadriceps strains.
- Bone injuries such as dislocations, fractures, or bruises. Overuse related injuries such as shin splints or carpal tunnel.
- These, along with many other categories, are very common among athletes after years of high-level activity. In fact, if you have been playing sports at a high level throughout your life it is very likely you have experienced at least 1 of these in the past.
What are the best ways to lower your chances of a sports injury?
- Warming Up Before Workouts & Competitions
The biggest thing that athletes, especially amateurs, neglect is proper warming up and cooling down. Taking the time to properly warm and wake up your muscles greatly helps prevent muscle strains. And just a few minutes of post-workout stretching and icing have the same effect.
- Drink Water & Hydrate Often
Hydration is also key to keeping muscles from cramping and tearing during cardio. Carrying around a large jug of water can help keep you from leaving an event early with a muscle cramp. Hydration also plays a key role in muscle building.
- Maintain A Steady Workout Plan
Having an all-around workout plan that exercises the muscles you use on the field is essential. Lifting weights, cardio, endurance, flexibility, or any other training alone is going to be enough to keep your body healthy. You need to make sure every area of your athleticism is up to par. This will help keep your bones and tendons strong and prevent breaks or tears.
- Stretch Only To Get Loose
Overstretching is a major cause of pulls and strains to various muscle groups, and can greatly hinder performance. Listen to your body and don't push your limits too much while stretching. Overstretching a muscle is both very easy and very dangerous to do.
A common trait of student athletes is impatience. Match this with stubbornness and the result usually is an athlete bypassing the proper rehab timeline to get back to playing too soon. This is the most common way that injuries become reaggravated and eventually become permanent. Make sure that, if you do sustain an injury, you do not make it worse by rushing to get back to your sport. While in the short-term this gets you back to playing faster, in the long run, it is a sure-fire way to keep you sidelined for longer stretches.