There is a saying in sport that “injury is just part of the game”. In other words, injury is seen as an inevitable consequence of participation in sport. Ever wonder why some people are “injury prone”; while others are not. While good fortune and genetics will play some role; there are several things that can be done in order to help decrease your risk for injury.
A proper warm up is a good place to start for injury prevention. The warm up should increase your heart rate, and start getting muscles and joints prepared for whatever is the task at hand. Unless you’re dealing with a specific issue/injury, an equal amount of mobility and stability exercises should be included. I would recommend starting with a global warm up (run, jump row, etc), then work on more specific areas based on what you’re about to do. Keep the static stretching for a cool down, it’s not something to spend time on prior to exercise or sport.
Strength training has many benefits including protecting joints from injury. Surrounding joints with strong musculature will help to support the joint, and allow it to withstand greater forces; that otherwise could result in injury. Sports that require repetitive stresses such as running, tennis and golf are the three sports that I see most often where additional strength training may help decrease injury rates from repetitive stress those sports put on the body.
Proper nutrition and adequate sleep are two commonly overlooked components of an injury prevention program. Sports and/or exercise (strength training, running, etc) cause the body to break down as a result of the activities. The food you eat and sleep are ways to recover and re-build. The failure to get adequate sleep (approx.. 7-8hrs/day); and lack of proper nutrition will decrease the body’s ability to generate new tissue, resulting in a slower recovery, and increase risk of injury.
Preventative care for your body in effort to reduce injuries can also be beneficial. It’s the “American way” to be reactive to your body, and related symptoms. Unfortunately, we are taught that health is merely the absence of symptoms; and once we have a symptom, only then do we react to in attempt to minimize it. The alternative is to take an approach where you do not wait for something to go wrong, but actively work to decrease the likelihood that something could go wrong. For example, flossing your teeth, and changing the oil in your car. Besides proper nutrition and rest as discussed above, other preventive care options may include chiropractic, massage therapy, yoga, pre-hab exercises, etc.
As you can see, there are many facets to injury prevention. Start making the needed changes, and watch your injuries diminish over the long haul. Remember, pain is your body telling you that something is wrong. Ignoring it is not going to make it better. Avoid allowing short term satisfactions from creating long term problems.