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Preventing Injury

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The first step to staying in the game is preventing injuries whenever possible. Below are a few ways you can ensure you avoid an injury this season.

Staying Fit throughout the Year

Any athlete knows it’s important to stay in shape even in the offseason. Keeping your entire body in shape throughout the year will ensure you are ready for your sport when the season begins. Maintain a conditioning program that focuses on endurance, flexibility, strength training and core strengthening.

Warm Up and Cool Down Properly

Make sure to warm up and stretch prior to exercise to avoid injuries. Cold muscles, tendons and ligaments are more susceptible to injury. For warm ups, try jumping jacks, stationary cycling or running or walking in place for 3 to 5 minutes.

Stretching after exercise can increase range of motion and may reduce muscle stiffness and soreness after a workout. To stretch, begin slowly and carefully until reaching a point of muscle tension. Hold each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds, and then slowly and carefully release it. Inhale before each stretch and exhale as you release. Never stretch to the point of pain.

Training

It is important to learn how to properly perform exercises before you do them. As you are working out and pushing yourself, your body can become fatigued and it can be difficult to maintain proper form. When form breaks down, injuries occur. If you notice you can no longer perform an exercise correctly, stop the workout.

Overuse injuries occur gradually over time from repetitive stress without allowing the body to heal between exercises. Overuse injuries can occur in any muscle or joint and include tendinitis, stress fractures and shin splints. Rest days are just as important as training days, so be sure to give muscles time to rest and rebuild each week to avoid injury.

Equipment

No matter what your sport, having the proper equipment—from the right shoes to safety gear—is essential. If you are unsure what you need, talk with a coach, athletic trainer, or other trained professional.

Listen to Your Body

If you have any type of persistent pain, it is best to get it looked at by a physician. Untreated pain can lead to chronic problems that may keep you from your sport for a longer period of time.