Because we help people recover from their injuries, we get asked this question all the time: "How can I prevent sports injuries?"
According to our medical director, Harvard Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medicine and EXOS, here are the top 8 things you can do to prevent injuries:
Exercise Prehab (Warm-up): If you're going to invest time training, then you need to invest time in what is called "prehab." To get started, use Floor Y's and T's to help protect your upper body, mini band walks for your lower body, and pillar bridges for core stability.
Movement Prep (Dynamic stretching): Movement Prep prepares your body for movement. It’s a series of innovative and dynamic movements that increase your core temperature, prepare your nervous system for physical activity and strengthen your body. Try these!
Proper exercise technique: Does this need further explanation? How many friends do you know who've injured their backs or shoulders with improper lifting techniques? Or head injury from poor tackling form? You must practice perfect form to prevent injuries.
Proper protective gear: My cycling coach once told me, "If you have a $10 dollar head, buy a $!0 helmet." 'Nuff said.
Proper hydration and nutrition: Just as you cannot drive a race car without high-octane gas, you cannot drive your body without proper fuel. Think in these terms: Refuel, Rehydrate, Rebuild. Ideally you should consume a smoothie, energy bar, piece of fruit, and/or sports drink immediately following a workout or race, with a carbohydrate:protein ration of 2:1 (~0.8 gram of carbs per kilogram of body weight and 0.4 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight). To learn more, read "The New Science of Recovery Nutrition."
Adequate rest and recovery: Probably the most important AND neglected aspect of injury prevention. Youth should get at least 9 hours of sleep, while adults need at least 8 hours of sleep. Recovery is a topic unto itself and in addition to what's been discussed also includes myofascial work (rolling), cryotherapy, compression therapy, massage therapy and chiropractic. Read this!
Cross-train and use variety of exercises/motions to reduce repetitive/stress injuries: Change up your workouts, include multi-planar exercises and build diversity into your routine to limit the stress to ligaments, tendons and joints created from single sport/workout regimen.
Stretching/Cool-down: After reviving the engine to red-line, spend 5 minutes at the end of your workout to cool down. During this time, perform static stretches to enhance your flexibility and range of motion.