How can I prevent injuries in sports?

Playing sports is fun. Getting hurt is not. To make sure you stay in the game, follow these five steps to injury prevention:

  • wear protective gear, such as helmets, protective pads and other gear
  • warm up and cool down
  • know the rules of the game
  • watch out for others
  • don't play when you're injured
Jamie Wolf , NASM Elite Trainer
Fitness Specialist

Ninety percent of the American population has some type of muscle imbalance resulting in a weakened kinetic chain that often causes injury. Exercises and sports can result in injury if imbalances exist, even with no prior injury. Examples of this would be a person with upper cross syndrome shoulder pressing or a person with lower cross syndrome performing heavy squats or leg presses resulting in excess stress to the respective joints. In addition, traditional training does not address the need to train on a single leg; however, in sports, it is very common that we reduce force, stabilize and produce force in this position. Therefore, we must train that pattern.

Enhancing the muscular balance and neuromuscular stabilization of the joints will reduce the risk of these injuries by putting muscles back in proper alignment. This can be done through corrective exercise/flexibility programs and by teaching proper recruitment and co-contraction of the proper muscle groups. All muscles must be trained to decelerate force, stabilize and produce force in order to function optimally in all three planes of motion.

Check out my blog for more sports training injury prevention information.

There are a number of simple steps you can take to help minimize the risk of injury while training for and participating in sports. The first is to make sure you perform a thorough warm up, which may involve light activities, like stretching and foam rolling of tight areas and moving all the major body parts through their range of motion to prepare them for further activity. Engaging in regular resistance training will strengthen your muscles, joints and soft tissues to help them prepare for the rigors of sports. Agility training and practicing starting and stopping will help you learn to control your body when you have to start or suddenly stop and will help decrease the risk of injury. Finally having a strong core will give you a strong base of support and help you control your body as you move. These steps will help decrease your risk of injury while participating in sports.

Yusuf Boyd, NASM Elite Trainer
Athletic Training Specialist

To reduce chance of injury in sport, one needs to have and maintain proper strength and stability. Most of the common injuries seen in sport are a result of muscle imbalances and weaknesses. Working with a professional to determine which of these you may have and implementing a corrective exercise program is the best prevention method. Until you can find someone, ensure that you engage in an active warm-up prior to activity participation.

No matter what the sport or activity, if there's a chance of head injury, wear a helmet. If you play a racket sport or basketball, wear eye protection. All you have to do is look at professional basketball players with their wraparound glasses, or professional bikers with their helmets on, to know that the people at the top of the game take safety seriously. Even sports like skateboarding require safety precautions. Enter any emergency room on a nice Saturday afternoon and you will see skateboarders and rollerbladers who forgot to put on their kneepads, wrist guards and helmets. Boating accidents are another common source of injury, often because people forget that drinking-and-driving rules apply to the waterways, too.

The RealAge Makeover: Take Years off Your Looks and Add Them to Your Life

More About this Book

The RealAge Makeover: Take Years off Your Looks and Add Them to Your Life

Why not live at 60 feeling like you did at 35?Thousands of Americans are younger today than they were five years ago. How is that possible? By following the specific recommendations that reverse...

Continue Learning about Sports Medicine

Prevent and Treat Shin Splints
Prevent and Treat Shin Splints
You’ve probably heard that dancers often suffer from shin splints. But did you know runners, and tennis, soccer and basketball players are also at hig...
Read More
What is sports medicine?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
Sports medicine is the prevention and treatment of illness and injury by maximizing function and min...
More Answers
How can I prevent eye injuries during sports?
American Academy of Ophthalmology's EyeSmartAmerican Academy of Ophthalmology's EyeSmart
Sports and recreational activities cause more than 31,000 eye injuries each year. If you or your ch...
More Answers
Are Athletes Better Protected Today?
Are Athletes Better Protected Today?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.