Sports injuries and how to avoid them

We all know the importance of keeping fit, and for many of us, that includes sport in one form or another. Whether you prefer a long jog by yourself or you’re a member of a local football or padel club, sport is an amazing way to keep active and maintain a healthy weight. It’s not, however, without its perils.

Many people will acquire a sports injury whilst pursuing their favourite activity, and whilst they’re not entirely unavoidable, there are things you can do to reduce your risk. Here we explore what causes sports injuries, a few common types of injuries, and how you can reduce your chances of getting hurt.

What causes sports injuries?

Despite improvements in modern sports gear and equipment, people still get injured in all sorts of ways. One of the most common causes of sports injuries is improper training or practice – in other words, inadvertently ‘doing it wrong’. With most sports, it’s best to start off with a proper coach, someone who is experienced, qualified and can show you how best to practice your chosen activity.

Other common causes of sports injuries include wearing the wrong sports gear, being in poor health or not warming up sufficiently before undertaking exercise. Anything you can do to address these risk factors is going to lower the chances of you picking up an injury.

What are the most common types of sports injuries?

The nature of the injuries you’re most at risk from really depends on the sort of sport you’re practising, but among the most common injuries are:

  • Pain along your shin bone
  • Joint injuries, particularly to the knees, ankles, and shoulders
  • Muscle injuries
  • Sprains and strains
  • Dislocations, especially of the arm
  • Fractures
  • Injuries to the Achilles heel or hamstring

It’s not necessarily true to say the more vigorous the exercise, the more likely you are to be injured. You can pick up sports injuries from even mild and moderate exercise if you’re not careful enough and don’t take the necessary precautions.

How to prevent sports injuries

No sport is without some level of risk, but there are four important things you can do to minimise your chances of getting hurt.

The first is stretching. Stretching is important because it improves your muscles’ ability to contract and expand, but does so in a controlled and safe manner. You should start off slowly and extend each stretch until you reach the point of full muscle tension, then hold the position for around twenty seconds. Remember, stretching should be challenging, but it shouldn’t be painful.

The second thing you must do is warm up and cool down. Warming up lowers the risk of pulling your muscles, gets your heart pumping and gets your circulation up. As a general rule of thumb, the more vigorous the exercise, the longer the warm up should be. We would advise around five to ten minutes before you launch into your main workout. Cooling off should take twice as long as warming up, as this gives your heart rate a chance to gently come down, limits muscle soreness and lowers your body temperature.

Thirdly, keep hydrated. Dehydration can cause heat exhaustion and heat stroke, the main symptoms of which are dizziness, headaches, and nausea, sometimes leading to blackouts. Make sure you drink plenty of water before, during and after exercise to minimise the risks. One top tip is to drink at a steady pace before you work out, and aim for around 450ml in the two to four hours leading up to exercise. Afterwards, you can let your thirst dictate how much you drink.

Finally, use the appropriate equipment based on your age and physical health. While exercise is meant to push your physical limits, exceeding them increases your chance of getting injured. If you’re not at peak fitness, don’t immediately leap into strenuous exercise with equipment that is beyond you. You should gradually build yourself up over time. If you’re working out at a gym, get the advice of an instructor as to the equipment you should be using at this stage.

What to do if you do get injured

If you do sustain a sports injury, it’s best to get it checked out by a medical professional. While some injuries will heal over time, others may be more serious than they first appear and may need medical attention.

At Dubai London Hospital, we have experts who are highly experienced in treating all manner of sports injuries. Our Orthopaedics Department can match you with the best doctor in Dubai to handle your case, ensuring you get the appropriate treatment and are able to make a speedy recovery.