Sports Injury Prevention: Running from a Lion
There's two types of sports injuries. One type of injury is caused by a sudden blow or hit, such as a rough tackle in football. The 2nd type of injury is caused by the body hitting it's breaking point. That 2nd type of injury is what we are going to talk about today, and how to prevent it from happening.
First we must answer, why does our body get injured?
The body makes instinctual sacrifices in order to survive. Imagine running from a lion, you're running at full speed and you roll your ankle. All the ligaments in your ankle tear and the muscles are sprained. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? It's a good thing. Because if your ligaments and muscles stayed rigged when you rolled your ankle, then your bone would have broken and you wouldn't have been able to continue to run away from the lion. An injury is simply a sacrifice the body makes in order to protect itself from further damage and keep you alive.
Realistically most athletes won't be running from a lion, but most sports can be compared to a similar situation physiologically. When performing in a game most athletes are competing in their most intense state of mind, running and making quick changes of direction at top speed without even thinking, they are escaping the lion to score the goal. The signs and signals the body sends to the human brain is faded by the competing mind of an athlete. Even if the athlete feels the pain, they either choose to ignore it, and often they don't even register it at the same intensity of pain as if they were not in a competition.
So how can you prevent sports injuries from occurring?
Here's 4 things that every athlete can implement in their lifestyle that will help prevent injuries
1. Self Care off the field/court
Who's on your wellness care team? What are you doing off the field to make sure you can do what you need to do on the field? Taking care of your body and mind are essential for every athlete. All professional teams have a wellness team, all top athletes have a group of individuals who make up their wellness team. And it's not just because they can afford it, it's because they can't afford not to have it. Keeping your body in top notch shape, training at the level you desire, making sure you know you can go out on the field without any hesitations or reservations about how you're going to feel for the next week if you do that tough workout. All of these aspects of training apply to all levels of athletes. A wellness team is made up of individuals who support you, help your be your best, and are there to make sure you are equip and ready to compete.
For tips on who should be on your wellness team read our blog post "Who's On Your Wellness Team"
2. Good warm-up and cool-down
A good warm-up and cool-down before and after every workout, practice, and competition is essential to injury prevention. Doing this once in awhile won't be effective, this is a routine that needs to apart of you. Warm ups should consist of dynamic movements, with some plyometric exercises getting the muscles warmed up and moving. You should be sweating by the end of your warm-up. The cool down should consist of more static stretching, making sure to stretch each muscle group from the feet all the way up to the head and neck.
3. Pay attention to the WARNING signs
Pay attention to the warning signs! This is so important and cannot be stressed enough. When the competitive brain turns on, all signals and signs are thrown out the window and that's when injuries happen. The BEST thing you can do for yourself in helping prevent injuries is LISTEN to your body. Don't ignore the signs, and most importantly respect the signs. If you feel like something is "off" and doesn't feel right, talk to your trainer, chiropractor, or coach right away before continuing.
4. Do the things no one else is willing to do
Be willing to do what others aren't willing to do. This means going the extra mile to take care of your body. Eat a clean and health diet, minimize toxin intake, eat fresh fruits and vegetables, and lower your intake of foods that cause inflammation in your body. Your body cannot heal when it is inflamed, don't inhibit your muscles ability to heal from a great workout and gain strength by eating lots of sugar.
-Amy Markhoff, D.C.