No one likes to be injured. Yet many of us look at injuries as something that “just happen,” instead of taking proactive steps to prevent them from occurring.
And yes, injuries are preventable! In fact, the majority of injuries can be prevented by taking simple measures to ensure good health.
Keep your form. Good biomechanics, proper technique, good equipment and gradual increases in training intensity and volume will aid in injury prevention. Your physical therapist or coach can help aid in this process.
Manage your stress! Stress hormones, such as cortisol, are known to negatively affect sport performance, reduce quality of life and contribute to injury and illness. When athletes experience high levels of stress their recovery is compromised. Muscles take longer to repair and rebuild themselves when cortisol is present. These hormones can be released in response to the athletic training itself or to the stressors of day-to-day living.
Check in. Communicate frequently about your thoughts, feelings and body status. When you are feeling tired, run down, exhausted or spent by your training or stressed from academics or life, it’s important to acknowledge those feelings instead of trying to sweep it under the rug. If you are a coached athlete, this is particularly important. Keep the lines of communication open and honest.
Draw a line – and stick to it. Know your stance on tolerating discomfort versus pushing through pain. Discomfort means you are getting stronger, challenging your limits and can recover reasonably quickly. Pain, however, is your body’s warning sign that it’s time to stop. Pain that does not subside after the activity is over is an indication something needs your attention. Listen to what your body is telling you, and talk to your doctor if you're unsure of what to do. Know where your line between discomfort and pain resides, and respect it.
Stay positive and focused! Believe it or not, your brain has direct impact on your body. Negative thoughts, feelings and reactions will make you more at risk for injury. If you’re not certain how to transform your negativity, grow your awareness and curiosity about what causes you to have negative thoughts: doubt, fear, anger, emotionality, insecurity and so forth. There are many skills one can develop, but the first step is to grow your awareness of what triggers it.
Once you’ve identified your triggers, come up with a new statement to replace your old thinking patterns.
Becoming aware of the factors that increase your chances of becoming injured, along with reducing those risks, can help every athlete avoid injury.