“Injuries are part of the game, but sometimes we can avoid them by just practicing our techniques.”
Troy Vincent, a former American footballer.
All physical activities carry some risk of injury. Though injuries are part of sports, injury rates could be reduced to a great extent, if athletes take appropriate preventative action. Weak ankles, knee pain, tight hamstrings, and shin splints are common sports injuries, which can be treated with physical therapy programs. Leaving an injury untreated can lead to further serious complications. Athletes must consult a doctor, if they have pain or any other symptoms that are so severe that they can’t exercise at all.
Injury risk is also connected to age. According to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, future injury prevention measures should focus on the high risk group of young male recreational athletes. This report finds that sporting injuries are a marginal phenomenon among the female population and mobile seniors actively engaged in sports. Another study published in the same journal found that rather than stretching, strength training exercises reduced sports injuries to less than 1/3 and overuse injuries could be almost halved.
While sports medicine deals with the treatment and prevention of injuries related to sports and exercise, why not try these exercises to prevent these injuries before they occur?
Injury Prevention Exercises
To prevent injuries, athletes can consider adding exercise or resistance programs such as the following.
Single Leg Squat – Often, footballers face internal knee injuries. Also referred to as pistol squats, single leg squat is a great exercise to increase the resiliency in your legs. It boosts joint stability, balance and thus reduces your risk of a knee injury.
- Choose a box of knee height and place it behind you
- Stand on your right leg and hold a 5-pound plate in each hand at your sides with your palms facing in
- Sit and bend your knee to lower into the squat and simultaneously raise your arms up to counterbalance your body. Keep your back flat, chest up and your knee aligned over your ankle.
- Continue lowering yourself until your butt touches the box or your thigh is parallel to the ground. At this point, your arms should be in front of your shoulders and parallel to the ground. Do not rest on the box.
- Straighten your knee and hips to stand up to the starting position. Repeat with your opposite leg.
As all the muscles work in combination with each other, this exercise provides excellent loading through the tendons. Make sure to keep the weight into the heel to maximize pelvic stability. Also, try to keep your spine in a neutral position.
Foam rolling – Foam rolling can be done both before and after a workout using foam roller fitness tool. This exercise can improve range of motion and reduce neuromuscular exhaustion and post-exercise soreness. While pre-workout sessions focus on problem areas, post-workout sessions are done for all the muscle groups worked that day. Spending just a few minutes on it every day can help release a number of different trigger points, increase blood flow, and improve tissue quality along with engaging your muscles and building strength.
Arabesque – A ballet move, arabesque is mainly practiced by footballers to prevent and recover from hamstring injuries. This is a great exercise for glute activation, while improving eccentric strength in the hamstrings. This is also ideal for those returning from a hamstring injury.
- Stand at arm length distance from the bar or back of a chair and rest your hands on the bar. Place your feet in a wide “V” with your heels pressed together and soften your knees. Lift your right leg up until it is level with your seat as you hinge forward from your hips.
- Lift your head and upper torso by contracting the muscles under your shoulder blades. Arch your upper back while keeping your lower spine neutral. Tilt your right hip about two inches higher than your left hip and square your shoulders. Look straight ahead. Keep your shoulders down and do not drop your chin to your chest.
- Use your glutes to lift your right leg up in one-inch increments, keeping it directly behind your hip. Maintain the turnout in both legs and keep your shoulders squared. Lift up slowly, then faster. Do three sets of 10.
While performing this, make sure that your back leg is parallel with the ground and your pelvis stays level through the movement.
Side plank – This exercise helps to improve back pain and also helps build strong abs. Along with improving control of force across your pelvis and boosting your core strength, it offers a great platform for multi-directional movement.
- Lie on one side with feet together and one forearm directly below the shoulder
- Using your lower elbow and forearm, raise your body up
During this workout, keep your ankles, knees, hips and shoulders in a straight line and squeeze your glutes throughout the exercise, which will push your pelvis forwards and support your back. Consider a neutral position where there are no increased curves on either side and keep your elbow directly under the shoulder to maintain the force through the upper arm and to reduce stress around the shoulder.
High box step-up – This exercise targets the quads, glutes and hamstrings. Along with improving the symmetry of leg musculature, it also improves your balance. As lower back and abs muscles are involved, they act as stabilizers to maintain proper posture as you execute the movement – whether striking the ball or jumping. This whole leg workout will help to improve your muscle tone and make you faster.
- Stand on one foot and raise your opposite knee up until your hip is at a 90-degree angle
- Hold this position for a moment and you should feel your glutes light up on the side of your balancing leg
- Now lower yourself steadily back to the ground. Repeat this movement
This movement should be performed at speed through the drive phase, whilst maintaining balance and control. During this exercise, don’t lean too far forwards. Try to keep your body upright.
Strengthening and conditioning programs are also ideal to prevent injury, improve performance and balance and get faster rehabs with stronger muscles. It has been proven that pre-season conditioning that involves flexibility, cardiovascular work, and resistance training contributes to the structural integrity of the joint as well as the muscle-tendon unit.
Sport injury treatments at reliable healthcare centers like HealthQuest would help to reduce pain, restore the injured area to normal function, enable return to sports, as well as prevent further injury.