Ah, the sugary smell of springtime is in the air. It’s that time of year where baseball season starts, school is soon to be out for summer—-and more people are destined to hurt themselves while engaging in more sports activities now that the weather is so nice. Physical therapists gear up for the seasonal spring sports industries that soon will come pouring in like April showers.
Firstly, there’s three main reasons why people hurt themselves playing sports: lack of conditioning, muscular imbalances, and improper development of dynamic joint range of motion. Yikes…it sounds so simple to avoid and yet not many think to educate themselves or their children before injuries or accidents occur the first time. Common injuries this time of year include ankle sprain, knee tears, tennis elbow, and groin pulls.
How to avoid injuries from spring sports:
1. Warm up when it’s warm out. Spring has arrived. And with it, ample opportunity to get outside and get active. But, before you engage in any physical activity, be sure to allow yourself time to do a warm up. Simply try running in place, doing jumping jacks, or simply walking to avoid having those “cold muscles” which are more prone to injury.
2. Engage in routine exercise habits. Try to do a little bit of activity daily. Sure, with busy schedules, a lot of people just wait until the weekend and go hardcore at their workouts or sport. But, realistically, this won’t increase your fitness level as well as someone who does moderate exercise every single day. Try to do like half an hour of something like walking or yoga everyday. Believe me, you’ll start to feel like a whole new person after just a few weeks.
3. Invest in your exercise. Living an active lifestyle doesn’t have to be expensive—-but it certainly can be. Little items for your workout routine can really affect the benefits you get from it while also actually preventing injuries. Invest in good equipment and a pair of shoes ONLY for that particular sport. Shoes that are worn and lack support are no good and should be replaced, post haste. Save money in the long run on sports-specific shoes by only using them when you’re engaging in that activity.
4. Dip your toes before diving in. If you’ve hibernated all winter, don’t just start being active hardcore now that spring is here. That’s a recipe for disaster. Work your way back to your ideal performance by training and conditioning. Before you begin engaging in sports this spring/summer, gently work the muscles out daily that you’ll be working when you engage in that activity.
5. Quit while you’re ahead. You might not realize it, but your body talks to you. And when your body gets tired, your body will tell you. Please listen. What it means usually is hat your muscles are fatigued which reduces your body’s natural protection tactics and makes it way more likely you will get hurt. Take a break!
6. Play it cool. After you’ve finished your springtime physical activity, simply remember to cool down just as your warmed up when you started. Do about 30s seconds minimum for stretches.