Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Getting out of the Sidelines: 6 Rules to Follow to Prevent Sports Injuries

Before anything else, I’d really like to thank you.  Why?  The mere fact that you are reading this blog is an honor for me.  I just recently started blogging as a way for me to share my opinions on topics I am knowledgeable about (mainly Orthopedics) and help patients take charge of their health.  If I can perhaps entertain those who happen to stumble upon this little blog site of mine, that’s a bonus for me.  

Sometimes, it is difficult to think about what topic to blog about next.  But as soon as the kids sleep at night and my wife starts snoring (Don’t tell that to her, ok. It’s a secret between you and me), then that’s the time I think about what happened to my day that can inspire me to put in my next post. 

Last weekend, being the opening games of the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Men’s Basketball tournament, I was inspired to discuss the prevention of sports injuries.  Why? Because being a sports enthusiast myself, I understand that the worst feeling for any athlete is to sitting out injured in the sidelines, watching his team struggle without him. (Hmmm. On second thought, some athletes’ team struggle more if they are around).

As a long-time UAAP fan, I volunteered this year to be one of a team of UAAP doctors tapped by the Ateneo school to be at ringside during games.  You know, just in case someone needs medical attention.  Ironically, I was also part of the medical team last year which was organized by the La Salle team.    

     But don’t get me wrong here, my blood is neither blue nor green, it’s as Maroon as it can ever be.  I was an “Iskolar ng Bayan” from Kindergarten up to Medical School.  With that I am obviously a Fighting Maroons fan, win or lose.  However, for those in the know, the UP Fighting Maroons has perennially been a cellar dweller in the UAAP Men’s Basketball games and this year doesn’t seem to be any different.  Still hoping I’m wrong about that.  

So my involvement in the UAAP medical team transcends color boundaries, more for the love of sports in general and just happened to be due to my hospital/ clinic affiliations. 

But going back to the point, as a medic, I’ve seen many injuries during games, and many players’ spirits crushed by the diagnosis of serious injury.  I believe prevention should be the key. It’s wiser to learn how to prevent injuries instead of dragging your way through rehab or surgery.

Recently, it was reported that Yao Ming of the Houston Rockets retired due to his injuries. I must admit that I have not read enough about his exact injury, but the fact that at his prime, and with all the medical resources available to him, US state-of-the-art facilities and all, his forced retirement is a wake-up call for us mere mortals.

    So whatever your sport may be -- basketball, running, swimming, badminton, golf – it does well to know that while it is impossible to prevent any injury in sports, their rates and extent can be drastically reduced if only we take appropriate preventive actions:

1.    Be in proper physical condition.
      The “weekend warrior” has a higher rate of injury, especially if you are into competitive sports. If you play any sports, you should adequately train for that sport. Don’t expect the sport itself to get you into shape. Many injuries can be prevented by following a regular conditioning program of exercises designed specifically for your sports. 

2. Don’t ignore warming up. 
    You have to get your blood flowing through your muscles and get your Central Nervous System programmed and ready to exercise by warming- up for at least 15 minutes. Warm muscles are less susceptible to injuries.  Start with an easy cardiovascular workout to raise your body temperature and heart rate, and finish with slow easy stretching.  Stretch slowly and don’t bounce!  Stretching lengthens muscles while it increases blood flow and muscle temperature.  When you’re finished, your muscles are ready to perform and are less likely to be injured.  

3. Know and abide by the rules of your sport.  
       The rules are designed, in part, to keep the players safe, especially in contact sports. Rules of the sport, including avoiding illegal blocks, deliberate fouls, are enforced to keep athletes healthy. Know them and follow them!  

4. Wear appropriate protective gear and equipment if required for the sport. 
    Some may think that wearing protective equipment may look like you’re a sissy. Sissy, my foot! Protective pads, mouth guards, helmets, gloves and other equipment are designed to help prevent major injuries, even death.  And needless to say, these equipment must be well fitting and in good condition. Never play without your safety gear.

5. Rest and hydrate. 
          Athletes who continuously train every single day will have more injuries. While many athletes think the more they train, the better they'll play, this is not true anymore. Rest is a critical component of proper training. Rest can make you stronger and prevent injuries of overuse, overtraining and eventual fatigue. 

6. Avoid playing when very tired, in pain, or in obvious injury.
       Pain indicates a problem.  Also, overuse injuries occur when you increase your exercise intensity more quickly than your body can adapt to the change. You need to pay attention to warning signs your body provides. 

     Although this list is meant to prevent many injuries, injuries may still occur. When this happens, don’t try to “play through” the pain.  Rest and let the injury heal before returning to sport.  Continuing to play can only make it worse and may lead to more serious and career –threatening chronic problems.  Taking a few days off, may prevent the loss of an entire season or career. 

      Good luck and play safe!  May the best team wins!

P.S.  Just want to share a video link for some of the worst sports injuries Worst Sports injuries

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