On the Field or In the Health Club: Injury Prevention for All Ages

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Maintaining an active lifestyle enhances muscle growth, joint function, bone strength, and helps minimize the risk of heart attack and stroke. But common injuries such as sprains, strains, and stress fractures can quickly sideline even the healthiest person. No matter what your age, it’s important to understand how to enjoy exercise and athletics safely. Here are seven tips developed by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine and the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons to help keep you and your family active all year long.

1. Warm Up. Cold muscles are far more susceptible to injury, so take time to gradually warm up with low impact activities like stationary cycling, walking, or running in place for 5-10 minutes. Once you’re warmed up, begin to slowly and gently stretch and hold each stretch for about 30 seconds.

2. Learn All You Can. If your workout routine involves a sport, take structured lessons to improve your form and identify common injury risks. Many local park districts and fitness clubs offer lessons for different skill levels.

3. Be Consistent. When it comes to exercise, consistency wins. Avoid short bursts of intense activity and long periods of inactivity. Instead, strive to fit 30 minutes of balanced exercise into your day—every day. If you can’t commit to a 30-minute workout, break it up into three 10-minute segments at different times of the day.

4. Be Aware. Our bodies have an amazing capacity to communicate with us. Avoid injury by learning to listen to fatigue or pain cues. Modify your activity level or take a break to accommodate your body’s needs.

5. Embrace the 10 Percent Rule. Motivation is great, but give your body time adjust to increases in activity by following the 10 percent rule. If you typically run three miles a day, don’t double it overnight. Instead, reach your goal by adding distance in increments of 10 percent.

6. Develop a Well-Balanced Program. Make sure your personal fitness regimen includes cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility. If most of your exercise comes from a single sport, balance it with other activities that will provide a whole body workout. Variety helps maintain motivation and minimize the risk of repetitive stress injuries.

7. Cool Down. Finally, no matter how tight your schedule, don’t skip the cool down. Slow and thorough stretching helps the body recover from the stress of exercise and prepares it for your next workout.

With fall sports in full swing, injury awareness and prevention is especially important. And when injuries occur, we’ve got you covered! Steindler Orthopedic Clinic offers Saturday Morning Sports Clinic for High School Athletes staffed by board-certified orthopedic surgeons. The clinic provides free orthopedic evaluations and X-Rays for acute sports injuries every Saturday from 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. now through October 24. For more information, call (319) 338-3606.