Sports and Aussies are synonymous with each other. As a matter of fact, Australia is one of the leading countries in sports per capita, with more than 500 sporting councils in just 7 cities!

It’s no secret that we play tough and it helps us stay as healthy as we are. With more Aussies adopting a healthier and active lifestyle, there are some important injury prevention tips that can help everyone promote a safe and optimal athletic experience. Remember playing is fun, getting hurt is not.

Why do sports injuries occur?

Sports injuries are most commonly caused by, you guessed it, lack of general physical maintenance and poor training methods. In some cases, weakness in ligaments, muscles, and tendons can also affect the body’s ability to withstand wear and tear on the field.  

Out of all these causes, the most common culprit is poor training ethic. Your muscles need at least 48 hours to recover after strenuous activity such as workout. This is why modern sports are focusing increasingly on the off-field habits of athletes as much as their on-field routine. Additionally, increasing the intensity of exercise rapidly and not pausing when you feel pain can also lead to injury.

All of us our unique and differences in bone architecture can sometimes hamper the ability to cope with the rigors of high-performance sport. There might be a few weak points in the physique where the arrangement of bone and muscle leaves us prone to injury. Some of these include uneven leg length, excessive pronation (flat feet), knock-knee alignment, or even cavus foot (over-high arches). These can typically result in injuries around the legs, ankles, knees, and hip areas, especially in impact sports like rugby.

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Types of common sports injuries

While there may be hundreds of documented injury types by medical professionals such as physiotherapists, the following are the most common ones.

Most of these result in symptoms such as pain, swelling, stiffness, dizziness, and sometimes bleeding.

  • Sprains
  • Dislocations
  • Bruises
  • Concussions
  • Stress fractures
  • Cuts and abrasions
  • Strain (groin and hamstring)
  • Joint injuries
  • Nose bleeds
  • Dehydration

Prevention of sports injuries

  • Strengthen the muscles: Your body is the machine that is subjected to various conditions while playing. Strengthen your muscular system by doing conditioning exercises during practice and otherwise.
  • Warm up properly: By doing the right stretching exercises, especially around muscles that will be subjected to impact during play, will increase flexibility and make your body less vulnerable to injury.
  • Use the right equipment: Athletes need to wear appropriate protective equipment to protect themselves and other players as well. Depending on the sport, these can include mouthpiece, pads, helmets, face guards, and protective eyewear. While these do not guarantee completely that there won’t be injury, they drastically reduce the chances of happening so.
  • Proper techniques: . This should be reinforced during the playing season.
  • Take breaks. Rest periods during practice and games can reduce injuries and prevent heat illness.
  • Play safe. Strict rules against headfirst sliding (baseball and softball), spearing (football), and checking (in hockey) should be enforced.
  • Stop immediately if you experience pain. Playing through this can worsen the pain, but also an internal injury.
  • Take time off. Plan to have at least 1 day off per week and at least one month off per year from training for a particular sport to allow the body to recover.
  • Prevent dehydration: Avoid heat illness by drinking plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise or play; decrease or stop practices or competitions during high heat/humidity periods; wear light clothing.

What to do if you have a sports injury?

We’ve all been there, and often been confused when injured during sports. There’s an easy way to remember what to do if you do end up getting hurt, just use the RICE method.

Rest: Rest the area to allow the tissues time to heal.

Ice: Applying cold therapy (ice or an ice pack wrapped in a thin towel) to an acute injury reduces swelling and pain. Ice is a vaso-constrictor. It causes the blood vessels to narrow and limits internal bleeding at the injury site. Apply cold to the affected area every two hours for no more than 20 minutes at a time. Allow the skin temperature to return to normal before icing it again. You can ice an acute injury several times a day for up to three days.

Compression: Compression of an acute injury is perhaps the next most important immediate treatment tip. By quickly wrapping the injured body part with an elastic bandage or wrap, you help keep swelling to a minimum. If possible, it’s helpful to apply ice to the injured area over the compression wrap to limit the swelling.

Elevation: Elevating the injured area is another way to reduce the blood flow and swelling to the area.

Use a qualified sports physiotherapist

Not all sports injuries are minor and will go away with ice packs. It’s always good to visit a qualified sports physiotherapist who can assess the severity of the problem and provide expert input on the injury.

A physiotherapist has specialised methods to understand the true extent of the injury and suggest rehabilitative methods that will allow you to get back to the field sooner than later. If you want to find the nearest physiotherapists, click here and book an appointment.