Injuries – Part of the Game
By Nick Newman, M.S.
As I have been faced with quite a few injuries this season and have seen a lot of other professional, collegiate and high school athletes suffer as well I wanted to address some common issues relating to injuries.
The odds are that if you train or play sports seriously, often or with passion you will become injured at some point. Some sports by their nature will also produce more injuries than others.
Here are some common traits about the sports with the highest injury occurrences:
- High impact/ Maximum intensity sports – These include sports such as Football, Ice Hockey, Rugby and others similar. A lot of the injuries with these sports happen on field of play and are often impact/ contact based. Two players hitting each other etc.
- Highly repetitive moderate/ high intensity sports – These include Volleyball, Jumping events, Olympic Weightlifting, Combat sports, Gymnastics and others similar. A lot of these injuries are overuse injuries such as tendonitis, and shin splints etc. Constant jumping, lifting, and/ or diving can create problems over time.
- Highly movement specific sports – These include most Track & Field events, Olympic Weightlifting, Soccer, Volleyball and others similar. When an athlete spends most of his/her time practicing one thing or moving in one direction, muscular imbalances will commonly occur. It is common for example for Volleyball and Soccer players to be extremely anterior (front side of the body) dominant. This over time can cause injury when one muscle group begins overpowering another.
So, you now know you are at risk for injury because of the sport that you play. Now it becomes important that you educate yourself on how to prevent injuries from happening. Firstly, do you know if you already doing something that increases the chance of injury beyond the sport you play?
Here are 5 common reasons athletes become injured:
- Lack of Self Awareness – No your own limits! You must know yourself and your own body better than anyone does. There is a huge difference between soreness, discomfort, fatigue, and PAIN. You must know the difference. Do not train through pain as this will only make the pain worse in the long run. Along with this goes to knowledge of preexisting injuries or physical issues. For example, my left hip joint is more unstable than my right. This means I can sprain my left hip (just like an ankle sprain) much easier than most people. Being a long jumper certainly does not help this! As result I do not do exercises such as single leg bounding, split jerks, and single leg vertical jumping as these will dramatically increase the chance of me injuring my left hip. Be Smart!
- Lack of Recovery – This can mean many things. Firstly, most of you do not sleep enough or eat the right foods. Both of these contribute largely to allowing the body to re-build and repair from training. Secondly most of you probably do not use specific RECOVERY METHODS such as ICE, HEAT, STRETCHING, MASSAGE, FOAM ROLLING, and EASY JOGGING. All of these simple methods will increase your ability to recover.
- Lack of Strength – Strength development is hugely important. Unfortunately you cannot just play your sport and go to practice and expect to be physically ready for a long season. You may be technically and mentally ready for you will only go as far as your body will take you in most sports. You must be strong. By strong I mean your core, tendons, ligaments, big muscles, small muscles, feet, bones. That’s a lot of strength right? Shocking to some but it is not enough to simply bench press a couple of times a week. A well rounded strength training program will provide strength on every level.
- Lack of Training Variability – As I previously mentioned most sports are highly repetitive and many young athletes these days only focus on one or two sports. The body is extremely adaptive and a result will adapt and develop depending on what you throw at it. If all you do is play run in a straight line the chances are your body will become conditioned to do just that. Therefore the muscles responsible for other movements will become detrained and eventually become too weak to assist the dominant muscles that you use every day with your sport. A good training program works in every angle, position and movement to ensure you develop as a complete athlete.
- Poor Shoes! – This one is just silly. However it is very common. Vans or other skate boarding style shoes ARE NOT running shoes and should not be worn while working out. Look after your feet if that is all you look after.
Preventing injuries for athletes who train hard and are serious about their sports is no easy task. Even if you do everything correctly you still may become injured at some point. However, if you follow the 5 points above the chances that you become injured will largely decrease and the chances of a major injury baring an unpreventable accident will be next to none. Good luck!