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Injury Prevention for Athletes: Simple Guidelines

Young-Athletes-Injuries_blogphotoIt’s no mystery to most life-long athletes and fitness-enthusiasts that the older you get the more prone you are to injury.  It’s an inevitable fact of life; as our body ages it isn’t nearly as resilient to the physical abuse it once was.  There is nothing you can do about getting older, so let’s move past that and talk more about the things we can do to decrease our risk of injury from enjoying physical activities.

Whether you are enjoying a brisk walk around the neighborhood, hanging off the rim at the basketball court, marathon running, cycling, or swinging a golf club there are a couple of factors that all active adults should take into consideration.

Flexibility

One of the single most important factors to staying injury-free is the ability of your joints to move through a full, natural range of motion (ROM).  Let me say that again—In order to stay injury-free your joints must be able to move properly!  Tight muscles can inhibit the ROM of joints, causing compensated movement patterns and decreased movement efficiency.  Eventually, these deficiencies will lead to abnormal wear and breakdown of joints, bones and muscles.

Preparation

It doesn’t matter what your sport or activity, Resistance Training is necessary and should be a component of your fitness regimen.  We all know that resistance training, or training that progressively overloads your muscles to make them stronger, is great for developing overall strength and improving physical appearance.  But there’s more.  Your body naturally adapts to the varieties of physical stress imposed by the resistance.  Your bones get stronger to accommodate the added load, the muscles get stronger, and tendons get thicker.  Stronger bones, tendons and muscles resist injury far better than non-trained ones.  Simply put, it’s great for everyone.  There are a variety of ways to resistance train, including using weights or just your own body weight.

Cardiovascular Training

Cardiovascular Training (cardio) is important for conditioning your body to effectively utilize oxygen.  The type of exercising or sport you do will dictate how much cardio and what type you do.  To keep it simple, if you play a sport where you are changing direction all of the time and not running really long distance (basketball or soccer) then you probably don’t need to be out running miles at a time.  Conversely, if you are a marathoner or endurance-style athlete, than you want to be putting in the miles.

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