Keeping Sports Safe & Fun

September 27, 2011

Participating in sports is a fantastic way to make friends, get in shape and learn important lessons about cooperation, determination and being part of something bigger than you. Whether you specialize in just one sport, or enjoy switching it up every season, the benefits you’ll receive will follow you even after high school and college. But so can painful injuries.
Participating in a sport leaves you open to a multitude of accidents. Your body is moving in complicated ways. Balls, sticks and other gear for the sport are flying everywhere, and bodies a hitting each other, the ground and who knows what else.
If you aren’t careful, you could rupture a tendon, tear a muscle, break a serious bone or damage your joints beyond full repair. Forget about being benched for the next game, you may be benched for the rest of your life. Many young athletes make mistakes that stick them with a life full of knee surgeries, slipped discs, neck injuries, permanent limps, or even brain damage.
It’s time to get protected!
Most people probably don’t think of this as a crucial part to preparing for a sport, but getting a screening physical by a nurse or doctor will evaluate whether it is safe for you to be playing sports in the first place. If you have certain health issues, sports may not be the right activity for you.
Once cleared for participation, you can use these tips to ensure you don’t suffer a painful and potentially life-long injury.
1)     Make sure you have all the necessary protective gear for your sport, that it fits you properly, and is in good condition. Wear it EVERY TIME you practice and have a game or match.
2)     Stretch your body before and after. Go beyond the minimum. Hold each pose for a slow 20 seconds. The more flexible your joints and muscles, the better your body will accept the strain and impact of your sport. Maybe take up yoga in addition to your sport! Fifteen minutes a day will help your body stretch and strengthen, as well as clear your mind.
3)     HYDRATE! Not drinking enough liquids throughout your day can cause exhaustion, headaches, severe cramps and even a trip to the ER. Carry a reusable water bottle around with you where ever you can.
4)     Know your sport. Understand the rules and regulations. They’re there to allow you to play aggressively while keeping yourself and others safe.
5)     Keep your head up! Watch out for rogue players who might not see you standing there. If they aren’t paying attention, make sure you are.
6)     Don’t play if you’re already injured. We know the pressure is on to perform, but you won’t be helping your team or yourself if you’re already hurt. You could risk aggravating your injury. This is an easy way to take a minor injury and turn it into a life-threatening one.
7)     Remember, it’s just a game. It’s not worth pushing yourself too hard, or dieting to the extreme to meet weight or body performance qualifications. Your body can handle a lot of strain and work, but it has a natural limit! Listen to what your body is telling you. Take breaks, and eat a healthy diet rich in the nutrients necessary for you to be a strong athlete and competitor.
As your gearing up for your fall sport to go into full swing, remember how important it is to keep yourself safe. If you’re passionate about being athletic and active, then it’s important to remember that one small accident can jeopardize your mobility for life.
All that being said, have fun this season! Set some new personal goals and team goals, and push to meet them! Just make sure you get to stay in the game to see them through.