With the summer winding down and fall sports programs opening up, it’s time to consider getting the most out of your athletic preparation, injury prevention, and treatment.
Whether you’re new to a sport or are a seasoned athlete, here are four steps you can take to prevent injuries:
- Warm Up: More than 30% of injuries seen in sports medical clinics are injuries to skeletal muscles.1 Warm ups can 1) improve muscle dynamics to reduce injury and 2) prepare the body for the stresses of exercise. Warm ups may even help you move faster. They should be completed at least 15 minutes before any exercise to maximize the benefits. The warm up should also include a variety of both “static” and “dynamic” stretches. “Static” refers to stretches that are held in a certain position for a period of time (i.e., knee to chest). “Dynamic” refers to stretches that are completed while moving (i.e., forward lunges).
- Monitor Food and Water Intake: Current studies show that adequate intake of fluids and nutrients during exercise increases an athlete’s performance.2 During high physical activity, electrolytes (like sports drinks), carbohydrates, and proteins are an important part of your pre- and post-workout routine in order to maintain body weight, replenish the energy used by your muscles, provide adequate protein for the healing of tissue, and reduce the risk of dehydration.
- Rest: Overuse injuries are among the most common injuries seen in sports medicine. Overtraining is a phenomenon that occurs when athletes exercise too much with too little recovery time in-between.3 Overtraining presents with a wide variety of factors including decreased sports performance, suppression of the immune system, muscle damage, decrease in muscle energy stores, as well as fatigue. It is important that athletes follow a program that provides optimal recovery time between training periods.
- Recognize Injury: Athletes are prone to injuries; whether it’s from training or practice to playoff games, athletes are putting a high demand on their bodies and are expecting a lot in return. This can result in sprains, strains, restricted movements, back pain, neck pain, and swelling just to name a few. It is important that athletes recognize and seek treatment for small injuries to avoid more serious damage. Evidence has suggested that chiropractic therapy can help with these physical ailments using a combination of therapies, including soft tissue therapy, spinal manipulation, electrical modalities, rehabilitation exercises, and athletic taping.
Recreational, amateur, and professional athletes alike have sought chiropractors to be part of their healthcare team.
Chiropractors working with athletes have traditionally been perceived as being spine, muscle, and nervous system experts called upon to treat sports-related injuries. However, treating spine, muscle, and nervous system injuries is not all that chiropractors can do—they may act as emergency care providers, pre-participation examiners, and even as sports injury specialists who work with coaches and other health professionals for the overall benefit of the athlete. These roles all fall under the umbrella the sports healthcare.4
For information on what activities and exercises best suit your needs, ask your family chiropractor.
References 1. Woods K, Bishop P, Jones E. Warm-up and stretching in the prevention of muscular injury. Sports Med. 2007; 37(12): 1089-99. PMID: 18027995. 2. American College of Sports Medicine; American Dietetic Association; Dietitians of Canada. Joint Position Statement: nutrition and athletic performance. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000; 32(12): 2130-45. PMID: 11128862. 3. Fry RW, Morton AR, Keast D. Overtraining in athletes: an update. Sports Med. 1991; 12(1): 32-65. PMID: 1925188. 4. Miners AL. Chiropractic treatment and the enhancement of sport performance: a narrative literature review. JCCA. 2010; 54(4): 210-21. PMCID: PMC2989393.