Many of us enjoy playing sport, whether it be for social interaction, health reasons, a hobby, or a profession. But over time, strenuous and repetitive physical activity can cause acute trauma or stress – which affects the bones and soft tissue; such as ligaments or muscles.
In fact, just over half of reported sports-related injuries are in relation to the knees (which seem to bear the brunt of the biomechanics associated with many sports). Additionally, shoulder injuries – either from overuse or overhead movements, such as swimming – come in a close second.
Sometimes you can’t avoid an accidental injury, like being ploughed into by an opposing player who outweighs you. But you can take steps to minimise your chances of sustaining significant damage. For instance, stretching and warming the muscles prior to the game will support your body, as will avoiding poor training methods.
The more serious player – like professional athletes – will occasionally enlist the services of a sports massage therapist to help give their body the attention it needs. These massages condition the muscles prior to the game, using techniques to align muscle fibre and connective tissues, flush out toxins, and improve joint mobility and flexibility. Added bonuses are relaxation and lowering of blood pressure.
Preventing injury during a big game
Should you or another player be injured in the course of a game, follow the standard first aid procedure known as RICER: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation, Referral to a doctor.
However, in most cases, a sports medicine doctor will be utilised to help with specific treatment and the rehabilitation process. These professionals are also sometimes orthopaedic surgeons who operate on injured bones, and can provide extensive insights. Others specialise in sports psychology, prescribe medical treatment, or address nutritional requirements for athletes.
In the case of an injury in a minor game, your sports club should provide you with a list of local therapy clinics, or options for local doctors specialising in sports medicine. Alternatively, you can always contact a body – such as Sports Medicine Australia – for additional support.
Recovery is key
As beneficial as sport is to our health and wellbeing, it’s just as important not to overdo it. In essence, your muscles need 48 hours to recover after a training session, workout or a game. Furthermore, if you have been injured, it is imperative that you fully recover before taking to the pool, or field, or boxing ring, or court again. The biggest risk factor for soft tissue injury is a previous injury. During recovery, these areas of the body are not firing on all cylinders, and are open to damage if you don’t pay close attention. The negative outcomes from this include:
- Significant pain;
- Reduced income if your injury has rendered you temporarily incapable of working;
- Reduced quality of life. Let’s face it: it’s no fun being stuck at home for weeks (or months) on end.
- Loss of independence while you’re incapacitated.
So if you are injured, always seek appropriate treatment, and wait until your body has had a full shot at healing, before jumping back into the deep end. Instead of being stuck watching from the sidelines with your arm in a sling, be the one kicking that big-time goal after a solid recovery.