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Safety Tips for Avoiding Sports Injuries

Florida Sports Injuries and How to Avoid Them

Sports are an important part of many people’s lives, providing a great opportunity for exercise, competition, and mental health benefits. More than 200 million Americans participate in sports and fitness activities each year. Unfortunately, sports are also a significant cause of personal injuries, including contusions, sprains, strains, fractures, concussions, and dislocations. In fact, Americans sustain on average more than eight million sports-related injuries each year. If your loved one has been seriously injured in a sports-related injury then contact the child injury attorneys at Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, P.A.

The most common fitness activities that cause injuries include:

  • Personal exercise;
  • Basketball;
  • Bicycling; and
  • Football.

No matter which sport or exercise you participate in, you are at risk of suffering an injury. The good news is that the causes of many common sports injuries are preventable with the right preparation. To keep your involvement in sports and exercise fun and injury-free, read on for the best practices for avoiding sports-related injuries.

Visit the Doctor First After a Sports Injury

While a trip to the doctor may be one of the first things on your mind after suffering from an injury, it is also just as important to visit a doctor before starting any new sport or exercise regime. The importance of a doctor’s visit before starting a new physical activity is recognized by most states for kids and teens, where a pre-sports physical, or pre-participation physical examination (PPE), is required before starting a new sport or beginning a competitive season.

The PPE will include an evaluation of medical history and a physical examination. Sports physicals are critical in isolating any concerning medical issues that could be exacerbated by involvement in sports, such as asthma.

Checking with a doctor isn’t just important for kids and teens. The Mayo Clinic has identified a wide range of health concerns that would justify checking with a doctor before starting a new exercise regime, including:

  • Heart disease;
  • Type 1 or type 2 diabetes;
  • Kidney disease;
  • Arthritis;
  • Cancer;
  • High blood pressure;
  • Pain or discomfort in the chest, neck, jaw, or arms;
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting with exertion;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Lower leg pain with exertion; or
  • A heart murmur

The above list is long, but is certainly not exhaustive of the health concerns that sports could trigger. When in doubt, visit a doctor before you take up a new physical activity. Also be sure to schedule a visit with the doctor if you have pain that doesn’t go away after rest or appropriate at-home treatment, or an illness that could spread to teammates or competitors. A delay of diagnosis or treatment can exacerbate the injury, leading to more serious complications and lengthy recovery timeframes.

Warm up and Cool Down Before Playing Sports

When you are getting ready to exercise or participate in a sporting event, warming up can seem boring and unnecessary. In fact, a good warmup is essential to your health and performance. Warming up dilates blood vessels, ensuring that muscles are well-supplied with oxygen and raises muscle temperature for increased flexibility.

Spending time warming up will increase your speed and power along with decreasing muscle pain and stiffness and reducing stress on the heart. An effective warm-up should last 15 to 30 minutes and should raise your heart rate; better yet, focus on one or two movements that the intended sport or exercise will use.

Cooling down is just as important. If you suddenly stop activity, you may suffer from dizziness and cramps. In addition to preventing dizziness and cramps, performing a sequence of slow movements as a cool-down helps to gradually slow your breathing and heart rate and to improve your range of motion while also helping the body remove lactic acid that can build up during activity. A quality cool-down should last at least five to 10 minutes, start with lower intensity movement, and end with stretching.

When it comes to warming up and cooling down, you should build time for these in your fitness program. If you find yourself strapped for time, remember that some warmup and cool-down activity is still better than nothing.

Wear Protective Gear to Avoid Injuries

Make sure that you wear the recommended protective gear for any sport or fitness activity. Protective equipment serves a critical role in avoiding sports injuries.

Common protective gear includes:

  • Helmets. Helmets are essential to reduce the risk of brain injury or skull fractures. About 25 percent of sports injuries are the result of falls, and more than 20 percent of all sport and recreational injuries involving children are traumatic brain injuries. Among sports, football is the leading culprit of concussions treated in emergency rooms, followed by basketball, playground injuries, bicycling, soccer, baseball, hockey, gymnastics, and skateboarding.
  • Padding. Use pads when participating in a sport like football or cricket. The padding will vary from sport to sport but can include chest pads, shoulder pads, shin guards, and leg and arm pads.
  • Eye protection. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, more than 40 percent of eye injuries in a year are related to sports or recreational activities, and 90 percent of eye-related injuries could be prevented if the appropriate protective eyewear was worn. Eye-safety standards exist for protective eyewear for racket sports, lacrosse, field hockey, baseball, basketball, hockey, and skiing.
  • Mouth guards. Mouth guards are commonly used in sports like hockey, rugby, and boxing, where blows to the face are more likely. To ensure the gum shield of a mouth guard fits correctly, consider consulting a dentist. Without a mouth guard, you are more likely to suffer from a dental injury, such as chipped or broken teeth, fractured jaws, root damage to teeth, and lip and cheek injuries. A study of high school athletes showed that 75 percent of dental injuries occurred when no mouth guard was worn.
  • Footwear. You may not think of footwear as protective equipment, but ensuring you are wearing the right shoe for the sport can decrease injury risks significantly. Sports cleats are the appropriate footwear for sports like football, baseball, and soccer. Running shoes can reduce overuse injuries, and bicycling shoes help to reduce foot pain and increase efficiency. Court shoes provide the appropriate level of traction for activities like basketball and tennis.

Using the appropriate protective equipment will increase your overall safety and reduce the risk of injuries when you participate in any sport.

Hydration Prevents Sports Injuries

Never underestimate the importance of staying hydrated. While hydration has always been an important issue for exercisers and athletes, heat-related illnesses and death are on the rise, with approximately 200 people dying in the United States from heatstroke each year. This makes it one of the top three causes of death in athletes. The good news about heatstroke and other heat-related injuries is that you can generally prevent it.

Athletes are at risk for heatstroke because their elevated body temperature causes the body to sweat to cool itself down. Sweating causes the body to lose water and electrolytes that must be replenished to avoid dehydration and heatstroke.

In addition to thirst, symptoms of dehydration and advanced heat illness include:

  • Chills;
  • Dizziness;
  • Headaches;
  • Weakness;
  • Increased heart rate;
  • Difficulty breathing;
  • Muscle cramps; and
  • Nausea

To avoid heat illnesses, take the following steps when participating in physical activity:

  • If you are new to a warm climate, train lightly before participating in an intense activity to acclimate your body to the temperature;
  • Drink at least 16 ounces of water or other hydrating fluids an hour before exercise, four to eight ounces every 15 to 20 minutes while active, and continue to replenish fluids for several hours after exertion; and
  • Wear the appropriate clothing for the heat, such as light fitting and loose clothing

If you believe you may be suffering from dehydration, move yourself to a cool or shaded area, cool the body with water if available, and consume hydrating fluids.

Avoid Overtraining

When you are involved with a sport or have a fitness goal, your first instinct may be to train as much as possible. It is actually more important to train smart and to avoid overtraining, which can decrease your performance and cause injuries.

Overtraining occurs when you train faster than your body can recover. Overtraining is most likely to occur if you quickly increase either the frequency, intensity, or duration of your training without allowing sufficient time for recovery. For example, if you decide to train for a marathon and suddenly increase your daily mileage from three miles to fifteen, you are at risk of overtraining.

You might assume that the primary impacts of overtraining are sore, tight, and tired muscles. The physical and mental impacts of insufficient recovery time are much more wide-ranging, and can include:

  • Insomnia;
  • Nausea;
  • Allergic reactions;
  • Increased blood pressure;
  • Elevated heart rate;
  • Respiratory tract infections;
  • Changes in menstrual patterns;
  • Change to heart rate; and
  • Decreased coordination

You can take these six steps to allow your body to adapt to your training schedule and recover more quickly:

  1. Increased carbohydrate consumption. Carbohydrates are key to giving the body energy and aiding in muscle recovery. Try increasing your carbohydrate intake if you plan to increase or intensify your training schedule.
  2. Listen to your body. If you notice a decrease in your performance, don’t try to overcome the decrease with additional training. This decrease is your body’s way of telling you it needs to rest. Take a minimum of two days off to allow your body to recover and to assess your training plan.
  3. Plan for an hour. While some workouts will need to span longer than an hour, your regular workouts should not exceed an hour. After an hour of work, your testosterone levels will decrease, and your cortisol levels will rise. Testosterone controls muscle growth, while cortisol can cause weight gain. An hour is often the sweet spot for a training session.
  4. Prioritize sleep. Sleep is a critical component of any training program, with seven to nine hours allowing your body appropriate time to recover.
  5. Train strategically. Put some thought behind your training program. Planning to alter the intensity of workouts and adding in new exercises will force your body to adapt and to recover.
  6. Treat yourself. Consider making massage a part of your recovery plan. Deep tissue massage helps to loosen tight muscles, increase blood flow, and eliminate lactic acid build-up.

If you are considering increasing the intensity of your workouts but are unsure of the best approach, you may want to reach out to a fitness coach to help craft a plan that works for you, your health, and your goals.

Stay Tuned to Mental Health

Matthew Dolman, sport safety attorney

Matthew Dolman Children’s Rights Attorney

When we think of sports injuries, the injuries that come to mind are those affecting the body, like pulled muscles or broken bones. Sports also have the potential to damage an individual’s emotional or mental health.

Sports and exercise are long-touted for their potential mental health benefits. Participation in sports has been shown to improve mood, thanks to the release of endorphins, and also boosts confidence and increases concentration. Exercise also reduces stress hormones, reducing feelings of anxiety and depression.

Unfortunately, there are also potential negatives that can result from participation in sports and exercise, including:

  • The feeling of pressure to overachieve, leading to the use of dangerous performance-enhancing supplements;
  • Addiction to painkillers after treatment of injuries;
  • Feelings of depression that could come as a result of an injury;
  • Eating disorders;
  • Exercise addiction; and
  • Bullying or hazing.

If you find that you or someone you love is struggling from mental strain related to sports or exercise, consider reaching out to a mental health professional.

Meanwhile, please stay safe while working to improve your health.

To contact Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA about a free consultation regarding your wrongful death case, either call our Clearwater office at (727) 451-6900 or fill out a contact form online.

Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900

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