Warm up and cool down to stay injury-free

Last Updated 23 July 2010, 11:51 IST
Warm up and cool down to stay injury-free

Participation in any sport, whether it is recreational or competitive, is essential for all youngsters. With sedentary lifestyles on the rise, people need to make an effort to stay fit and avoid medical complications such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. 

However, participation in sports and vigorous exercise does increase the risk of injury which is inherent in any form of physical activity. Knowing the cause of sports injuries and learning how to prevent them is important if good health is high on your list of priorities.
Children are at a higher risk because of immature or undeveloped muscle coordination, skills and perception. Adolescents and young adults have high participation rates in sports and other physical activities, so they experience almost one-third of sports-related injuries. 

Injuries can also be linked to doing too much, too often. Repetitive stress on one muscle or on the same body part can cause a break down. So, it is important to start slow, choosing one sport at a time and increasing training time and intensity over a period of time.

Most people need professional coaching when they begin to learn a new sport or when they start a new fitness routine. An instructor can help you modify exercises to suit your unique needs. Many youngsters try to come back from an injury too quickly. As a result, they frequently develop a secondary overuse injury while trying to make up for lost time, due to which there is tremendous strain on muscles and ligaments. This, in turn, causes inflammation and stress fractures. Even if you successfully avoid an overuse injury, you may end up with muscle imbalance, weakness and alignment problems.

Preventive measures

* Vary your exercise/ training routine and include a variety of exercises.
* Use the services of a qualified trainer or coach.
* Warm up before starting any exercise. This makes the muscles less prone to injury.
* Avoid exercising/ playing when you are tired or in pain. This could aggravate the problem.
* Wear shoes that fit properly, are stable, and absorb shock.
* Cool down after a workout/ game.
* Know your body limits. Never overdo your fitness routine.

Common sport injuries

* Sprains
* Knee injuries
* Swollen muscles
* Pain along the shin bone
* Dislocations
* Fractures


In case of a minor injury, treatment can be done at home. Reduce your regular fitness/ sports  activity for the time being. To reduce swelling, put the injured area on a pillow, at a level above your heart. An ice pack should be used to the injured area four to eight times a day. However, if the injury causes severe pain, swelling and numbness even after two days of getting hurt, it’s time to consult a doctor. Certain anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling and pain are usually prescribed.

Immobilisation is a common treatment for sports injuries. It keeps the injured area from further damage. In some cases, surgery is needed to fix sports injuries. Surgery may be suggested to fix torn tendons and ligaments or put broken bones back in place, though most sports injuries do not require surgery.

Certain exercises are advised to treat the injury. One can start exercises by gently moving the injured part through a range of motions. Don’t go back to your fitness routine or sport until you are sure you can stretch the injured area without pain, swelling, or stiffness. Inspite of the risk of injuries, sports and workouts improve health, be it of the heart, brain or bones. All you need is a smart way to handle your fitness.

(Published 23 July 2010, 11:04 IST)

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