Playing A Sport This Summer? Here’s What You Can Do To Prevent Injury!

Playing a sport during the summer is a great way to spend your time off. It’ll allow you to stay in shape and stay active during the nice weather. Sports also bring an increase risk of injury, here’s how working out can help to prevent an injury from occuring.

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Graph 1: Forces Placed on Tissues (Muscles, Tendons, Ligaments) vs Likelihood of Injury on Trained and Untrained Individuals 
Graph 1: Forces Placed on Tissues (Muscles, Tendons, Ligaments) vs Likelihood of Injury on Trained and Untrained Individuals
So you’ve decided to sign up for a sport this summer? Good for you! You’ll have a blast! Whether you’re 20 years old or 60, sports give you a sense of pride, enjoyment, and happiness that is hard to replicate. Sports also bring another thing – injuries and an increase wear and tear on the body. When we workout it strengthens our muscles, we all know that. It also has another effect on the body. Working out allows us to decrease the likelihood of an injury. Let me explain, “when we workout, it not only strengthens our muscles, but it also allows us to have stronger tendons, ligaments, and even our bones. The bones become stronger due to the overload placed on them during training and the ligaments become more flexible and more efficient at absorbing the shock applied to them during dynamic movements” – (Walker, 2007). So how does this relate to you? Having bones and ligaments that are stronger and better at absorbing shock allows us to put more load on them without being exposed to injury. See the graph above which shows that trained individuals can handle more forces placed on tissues such as muscles, tendons, and ligaments then those who are not trained. Working out not only allows us to withstand greater forces but it allows us to be more likely be able to correct our movements when we are put in a compromising position. This is due to an increase in proprioceptive function. Let me explain what this means. When we close our eyes and wave our hand in front of our face, even though our eyes are closed we still know that physically our hand is in front of our face. This is called proprioception – the ability to know where our limbs are in space. So how can an increase in our proprioception ability help to prevent injuries?
Imagine you and an opponent are both in a foot race chasing down a ball in soccer; if your soccer field is anything like the ones I played on growing up – the chance that they’re all perfectly flat with no bumps or holes is slim to none. Now as you’re chasing after this ball, your body must adjust to un-level ground, bumps, and general surface abnormalities. Now surely, our brain isn’t thinking about this with every move we take during this challenge? In fact it isn’t. So what’s going on? In a study by Grimmer et al, they mentioned that when running and dealing with small disturbances in our activity, generally our brain does not have to think about it. It relies mostly on mechanical changes. A large part of the mechanical changes used in this foot race would come from leg stiffening in order to maintain a safe position and overcome any abnormality we face during this run. We also deal with disturbances faced while running via the ankle complex. “Ankle proprioception can be altered by general and sport-specific training, sport-related injuries, and sport-induced fatigue, all of which may subsequently lead to altered balance ability” – (Han et al, 2015). What this means for you is that your ankle is better able to adjust and make changes in game to prevent injury, when it has already been trained through practice to do so. You are also more likely to have an ankle injury when you have injured it in the past or if you are excessively fatigued (this goes for almost any joint, not just the ankle). It is important that we also combine the strength we’ve gained through working out, with proprioceptive practice. When we gain this strength and combine it with proprioceptive practice it allows us to be able to be strong enough to make these adjustments as well as have the efficiency of knowing which muscles to fire and when, in order to achieve maximal stability during this run. This proprioception practice comes in the form of replicating the actions done in your sport in a safe environment. This can be done in a variety of ways ranging from doing squats on uneven surfaces such as a bosu ball if you’re a jumping athlete, to running on sand if you’re going to be playing soccer. It’s practicing these small adjustments that allows you to become better at doing them while in competition. I hope you all learned something about injury prevention in today’s article. The next article will be a little lighter, as we will be talking about what causes soreness after something as a long hike or working out, and what you can do to manage it!  Written by: Andrew Blakey, Owner of Your Future Fitness  P.s – Thanks Tim for sending me the great article on ankle proprioception  References: Grimmer, S., Ernst, M., Gunther, M., & Blickhan, R. (2008). Running on uneven ground: Leg adjustment to vertical steps and self-stability. Journal of Experimental Biology, 316(7149). doi:10.1136/bmj.316.7149.3a Han, J., Anson, J., Waddington, G., Adams, R., & Liu, Y. (2015). The Role of Ankle Proprioception for Balance Control in relation to Sports Performance and Injury. BioMed Research International, 2015, 1-8. doi:10.1155/2015/842804 Walker, B. (2007, February 5). Strength Training and Strength Exercises for Injury Prevention. Retrieved May 21, 2018, from Andrew Blakey | Owner & Trainer | Your Future Fitness | 705 606 0374 |

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