"Obstacles don't have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don't turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it." ~ Michael Jordan
With the recent winter Olympics, our attention turned to dangerous sports such as ski jumping, luge and snowboarding, along with perceived safer sports such as curling, skating and cross-country skiing. However, no matter what sport or level of play, injuries are far too common. I witness it at the high school basketball and minor hockey level, and we all witness it at the NHL and NFL level.
During the Olympics, you heard stories of athletes who sustained serious injuries and are back at their sport. But what about when the injuries hit close to home affecting your kids, your friends or yourself? The future is unknown when it comes to injuries and can be filled with chronic pain, disability and rehabilitation. So how can we prevent sport-related injuries?
What are the common types of sport-related injuries?
Concussions: Awareness about concussions has come a long way. Many of us grew up in a time where helmets were not considered as mandatory as they are today. Concussions have to be treated seriously no matter how minor the injury to the head may seem. Dr. Mike Evans, who is CBC's official doctor during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, created this excellent educational video about concussions.
Sprains & Strains (i.e. ankle sprain, groin strain, hamstring strain, low back strain): A sprain involves an injury to the joint due to stretching of the ligament(s), where as a strain involves an injury to a muscle-tendon complex. The injury may be obvious with swelling and bruising, or it may only present with pain. Initial treatment follows the RICE approach -- Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
Tendonitis (i.e. Achilles, elbow -- referred to as epicondylitis, or more commonly as tennis or golfer's elbow, rotator cuff):Tendonitis can occur anywhere where a tendon connects a bone to a muscle. It is often the result of repetitive use, and therefore, tends to become chronic in nature.
Fractures (commonly limbs, digits or clavicle - also known as collar bone): Fractures/broken bones can occur virtually anywhere in the body. Stress fractures tend to be more common in sports as the result of overuse.
Knee injuries (i.e. anterior cruciate ligament injuries and meniscal tears): Surgery is often required for ACL injuries. Other knee injuries such as meniscal tears may respond to conservative treatment such as physiotherapy.
Overuse injuries (i.e. runner's knee and shin splints): Can affect any muscle, joint or bone as the result of over-training or improper technique with activity.
Lacerations: Cuts that may require suturing or can become infected.
Dislocations (i.e. shoulder, elbow or thumb): Injuries to joints that result in malalignment. The severity depends on the mechanism of injury and location on the body.
Contusions: Bruises/hematomas that result from collection of blood to the injured area. They can be minor such as a black eye, or more serious such as internal organ contusions.
- Wear proper equipment such as helmets, protective gear and goggles.
- Use the 10 percent rule: you should not increase your training program more than 10 percent per week.
- Know your limitations -- we are not all built for the sports we enjoy.
- Avoid comparisons -- don't worry about what other people can do. Listen to your own body.
- Hydrate and be aware of your environment. Dress appropriately for the conditions.
- Add a warm up and a cool down to your sport/activity.
- Improve your flexibility and core strength through other activities such as yoga and Pilates.
- Optimize your well-being with a well-balanced diet, sleep and relaxation time.
- Be an advocate and role model for fair and safe play.
Have you suffered from a sport-related injury? Could it have been prevented?
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