Studies conducted over the past few years point to an increase in physical activity among both children and adults in America – an encouraging trend for our overall health and wellness. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), some 30 million children and adolescents participate in youth sports in the United States. Furthermore, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, in 2015, 19.5% of Americans age 15 and older participated in some form of exercise, compared to 15.9% in 2003.
With the growing popularity of exercise and organized sports comes an increase in sports injuries. Consider these facts:
- Recent data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports an estimated 8.6 million sports injuries occur each year.
- About one-third of all sports injuries occur in a sports facility, athletic field or playground.
- The most common injury types of sports injuries are sprains and strains, followed by fractures.
- High school athletes experience an estimated 2 million injuries, 500,000 doctor visits and 30,000 hospitalizations each year, as reported by StopSportsInjuries.com.
- According to the CDC, nearly half of all sports injuries in children are preventable.
As a leading orthopaedic sports medicine practice, Cary Orthopaedics offers useful tips to keep you safe and healthy – whether you’re a competitive athlete, casual exerciser or avid gym rat. Start by taking the proper steps to prevent sports injuries and get familiar with the basic protocol for sports medicine treatment should an injury occur. Here’s the low-down:
Wear appropriate protective gear and equipment
Wearing appropriate protective equipment is one of the easiest ways to avoid sports injuries. Be sure you (or your child) wear the appropriate protective equipment designed for the specific sport or activity. Also check to make sure the gear fits correctly, as poorly fitting helmets, pads and other equipment can cause more harm than good if worn incorrectly.
Always do a warm-up before any physical activity
Participating in a proper warm-up before playing sports or exercising is a crucial step in preventing sports injuries. A proper warm-up helps prepare the muscles and joints for physical movement, resistance training and impact. Research shows that a heated muscle is less likely to be strained. Depending on your level of activity, a warm-up can simply consist of starting slowly or gently stretching.
Never play through the pain
If you feel pain during exercise or while participating in a sport, always take a break or stop the activity to assess the pain. It’s very likely that you could make the injury worse if you decide to ignore it or “play through the pain.” Pain is a signal from your body that something is wrong. Remember to listen to your body during physical activity. Many sports injuries can be prevented or minimized in this way.
Take time off
Give your body adequate rest – a key element for recovery and performance improvement. It’s recommended that you take one or two days off each week from intense physical activity. Try not to push yourself past your limits. Neglecting to allow your body to rest and recover can cause weakness and stress, making sports injuries more likely.
Use proper technique
Each sport or exercise has associated correct techniques. It’s important to learn correct movement and body alignment, as well as come to understand how the bones and muscles are working to support the activity. Seek advice from personal training experts and coaches – either online or in a formal setting. By practicing proper exercise techniques, you can make your bones, muscles and connective tissue (tendons, ligaments and cartilage) more resilient and less susceptible to injury.
Use the PRICE remedy for minor strains and swelling
If you or someone you know has suffered an acute sports injury, start treatment with the PRICE protocol: Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Giving immediate attention to what may seem like a minor sports injury will help alleviate swelling and potentially prevent further injury.
See an orthopaedic sports medicine specialist
Cary Ortho provides easy appointment scheduling through our online form or by calling any of our Triangle locations. We also offer orthopaedic urgent care walk-in appointments from 8 am to 4 pm at our Morrisville and Holly Springs locations.
Our orthopaedic sports med specialists take time with each patient to properly diagnose and treat the sports injury and will be there with you every step of the way to recovery.
Keep on moving
Exercise and physical activity are extremely beneficial to overall health – for both adults and youth – so don’t stop moving! But always take precautions and listen to your body.
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