We’ve gone over some common winter sports injuries and how to prevent them. It’s time to continue those practices into the spring season. While this blog highlights how to prevent spring sports injuries, you can also use these steps to prevent injuries in your daily workouts as well.
Continue reading to learn more about sports injury prevention practices that can help you be a stronger and healthier athlete. And when an injury comes, you can count on us to get you back to playing.
#1. Practice Static and Dynamic Stretching
When you’re preparing for an intense workout or a big game, it’s important to incorporate static and dynamic stretches into your sports training routine. Static stretches involve holding a position that stretches a particular muscle. Whereas dynamic stretches involve more movement at a warm-up pace.
Combining both types of stretching into your warm-ups can ensure that your muscles and body are ready for the main activity. By including dynamic stretches, you’re improving your range of motion and flexibility, a key component of sports injury prevention.
Some common types of static stretching that can be included in your warm-up are
- Standing Shoulder Stretch. Bring one arm across your body and use your other arm to pull it across, as far as it’s comfortable.
- Upper Back Stretch. Standing up, bring both arms perpendicular to your body and have your palms interlocked and facing outward. You should feel this stretch between your shoulder blades.
- Hip and Thigh Stretch. Similar to a lunge, but you’ll be still rather than switching legs. In this lunge position, you should feel it along the thigh and hamstrings, depending on which leg is in front.
Below we’ll provide some dynamic stretching movements for you to include in your sports training routine.
- Arm Circles. Especially in spring sports like baseball, where you’ll be putting a lot of force on your throwing arm, arm circles help warm up shoulder muscles and joints.
- Torso Twist. To help warm up the abdominal muscles and spine, slowly twist your body back and forth. You can also add arm swings into this motion for a further stretch.
- Squats. This is a full-body warm-up that can help get your body ready for intense running and sprinting exercises.
- Walking Lunges. As track and field athletes, incorporating walking lunges into your warm-ups help with lower leg and thigh muscles.
#2. Take Time to Rest
During the season, it can be hard to allow yourself time to rest but it’s a necessary step to safe sports training. This rest allows your muscles to recover from extreme activity. Intense exercises, like a lacrosse game or tennis match, create microscopic tears in your muscles. Without proper rest, these tears won’t be able to recover or strengthen your muscles.
Additionally, your body needs time to recharge and store more glycogen in your muscles. If you don’t give your muscles enough time, you’ll be more tired and potentially not as strong during your next workout. This is known as exercise-induced fatigue.
When your body is more fatigued, you’re more likely to experience common sports injuries such as an ankle sprain, pulled hamstring, tennis elbow, or injuries to your knees and shoulders.
#3. Alternate Exercising Activities
Your coach likely has an exercise program laid out for you during the season, but it’s important you’re not overworking these muscles and doing intense workouts outside of your sports training.
When you do the same workout every day, those muscles never get a break and you’ll start to feel extremely sore and strained. So, it’s best to alternate between strength training, cardio workouts, and active stretching routines.
This not only allows your muscles to rest but incorporates more muscles into your overall sports training which ultimately makes you a stronger athlete.
On some days, rather than lifting weights, you can try body-resistance exercises that can still increase your heart rate and keep you active. These exercises include
- Jumping Squats or Lunges
- Box Step Ups
- Jumping Jacks
Other forms of sports training that help you stay active and in peak performance outside of games and practice include
- High-Intensity Interval Training. These smaller, intense workouts can build stamina and help you burn calories in a short amount of time.
- Pilates. This type of exercise incorporates resistance training and can be very beneficial in building muscle strength and endurance.
#4. Stay Hydrated
With 60% of your body being water, it’s essential to constantly replace the fluid you’re losing through sweat. When an athlete becomes dehydrated, they have an increased amount of blood circulating throughout the body. This can lead to muscles not getting enough oxygen and performance dropping dramatically.
The best way to combat dehydration is to ensure you’re drinking enough fluids before, during, and after your exercise or game. It’s crucial to not just drink when you’re thirsty because thirst is not a good indicator of whether or not you’re hydrated.
Ideally, you should be drinking every 15-20 minutes during the entirety of your practice, game, or workout.
Similar to the other steps in this blog, dehydration means you’re more at risk for spring sports injuries such as bone fractures and muscle tears. Additionally, you will likely experience dizziness, nausea, and fatigue which can add to your risk of an orthopedic injury.
#5. Don’t Push Through an Injury
The most important characteristic of sports injury prevention is if an injury does happen, you’re not pushing yourself to continue to play or practice. If you decide to continue playing, you could cause a lot more pain and a worse injury with a longer recovery.
Oftentimes, when you catch an injury from the start, you can reduce the amount of medical attention you’ll need and your recovery time. Depending on the intensity of your injury, you may only need to rest, ice, and elevate. However, pushing through this injury may cause more intense fractures and strains.
Below, we’ll list out some common sports injuries, and their symptoms so you can have a better understanding of when it’s time to seek professional treatment.
Patellofemoral pain syndrome also known as “runner’s knee” is common in track and field athletes. With the constant movement of your knee bending and straightening, it can cause irritation behind the kneecap.
When this injury occurs, you may hear a popping or snapping sound, see some swelling and experience intense pain when you’re walking or running. Other than pain in your kneecap, you may also feel pain in your hips, legs, and feet.
An Achilles tendon injury often occurs from a lack of stretching and overuse. Your Achilles tendon bears a lot of stress and pressure during everyday activities, as well as during athletic and recreational play. If it becomes inflamed, swollen, and irritated, it’s called tendonitis.
This is why it’s essential to not push through an injury but rather rest and seek treatment when necessary. Some symptoms of an Achilles injury include
- Pain in your heel during or after your workout or game.
- Swelling in your tendon.
- Limited or loss of motion in your ankle.
Shoulder tendinitis is a fairly common spring sports injury, especially among baseball and softball players. When this injury occurs, an orthopedic specialist should look at it before you return to play. Some symptoms of shoulder tendinitis include:
- Pain when raising or moving your arm.
- Hearing a clicking sound when you move your shoulder.
- Reduced strength and mobility in the shoulder.
- Stiffness in the shoulder.
An orthopedic specialist will test your range of motion and may suggest an MRI or x-ray appointment to confirm there’s a tear. Treatment plans often include rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medication, and physical therapy.
Although some spring sports injuries are inevitable, by doing the recommended steps above you can help strengthen your muscles, give yourself a break, and ultimately reduce the risk of injury during your sports season.
When injuries do happen, you can count on Lancaster Orthopedic Group to provide a personalized treatment plan that gets you back to playing your best. You’ll get the best outcome when you come in early, and take the appropriate time to heal your injury.
Be proactive with these sports injury prevention steps. When an injury does happen, schedule an appointment with our specialists so you can get back in the game.