Whether you want to try a new sport, already play sport or want to get back into an old one, it’s really important to avoid injuring yourself, especially as you get older! Here’s our top tips for preventing a sports injury.
1. Don’t rush into it
If it’s been a while since you played a sport such as basketball, make sure you ease yourself into it. You don’t want to suddenly launch into a whole game if you’ve never played or haven’t played for a while as you’ll be more likely to injure yourself. Work on your fitness beforehand or try practising the game for short periods then gradually build up.
Alternatively, play part of an actual game and gradually build up. It could also be a good idea to have a health check-up with your GP to make sure everything is in order and to discuss your exercise plan.
2. Get the correct gear
When playing sport, make sure you have the correct gear. For example, your footwear needs to provide good support, fit properly and be appropriate for the sport you’re playing. Helmets, pads and mouth guards should fit snugly and properly. Wearing clothes that allow you to move freely is good too, and for women, a good sports bra is an essential.
3. Know the rules
It may seem obvious, but you should know the rules of the game you’re playing. Many rules that are in place in contact sports, such as rugby, are there to keep players safe. It’s especially important for children to understand the rules to help avoid things like collisions and dangerous tackles.
4. Warm up properly
Warming up for a good five to 10 minutes gradually gets your heart rate up, increases blood flow to your muscles and loosens up your joints. It prepares your body for exercise and helps prevent injuries. Light jogging, brisk walking or jumping are good ways to warm up. Gentle stretching prepares the muscles for exercise and also helps prevent injuries. Leg and arm stretches are important to avoid pulling muscles such as your hamstrings.
5. Warm down properly
Warming down is just as important as warming up. Stopping vigorous exercise suddenly can increase your chance of injury. You need to gradually bring you heart rate down and warm your muscles down. Warming down properly also prevents sore muscles the next day.
Warming down exercises should take about five to 10 minutes. It’s a good idea, too, to make sure you don’t suddenly get cold after exercising. After warming down, put on a light sweatshirt to help your body adjust to a cooler temperature.
6. Don’t play if you’re injured
If you have any kind of injury, strain or pain, don’t play! It’s better to miss a game so you can rest and recuperate than play and run the risk of aggravating your injury and making it worse.
And remember to stay hydrated when playing sport. Water is the best option. Be wary of sports drink as they often contain a lot of sugar and additives. Drink water before you play sport, during if possible, and after to ensure your body stays hydrated.