Protect Yourself From These Common Sports-Related Injuries

Getting in enough physical exercise is important for our health. Yet, whether that physical activity involves working out at the gym or participating in sports, it’s important not to overdo it. Pushing yourself can lead to common, yet painful injuries. Being aware of ways to avoid these injuries can help you stay safe, while pursuing your fitness or sports goals.

Head injuries

These types of injuries are more common in competitive team sports and include everything from traumatic brain injuries to incidences of TMJ. Trauma to the jaw or skull is generally responsible for swelling or a fracture of the bone of the skull in both these types of injuries. That’s why regulations for contact sports, such as football or hockey, set guidelines for wearing face and head protection. While some types of sports don’t require this type of protection, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a risk of a head injury. For instance, TBI incidences are still common in sports like basketball and soccer, even though the players don’t wear helmets or mouth guards. In any physically active sport, it’s wise to consider wearing a helmet or similar protection to protect your face and head.

Neck Pain

When the neck becomes misaligned, it can cause pain that won’t seem to go away, but this isn’t necessarily due to an injury. In fact, it can begin in the office, while you’re working at you desk. Your neck becomes misaligned through poor posture, but the pain can really intensify later, when you hit the gym. It can become a bigger problem as you lay on the weight bench, if you don’t ensure your neck and upper back are fully supported against the pad. Doing lifts that force you to raise your hands over your head can really aggravate the condition. To strengthen these muscles, do reverse shrugs with the lateral pull down bar, adjusting the weight to a comfortable level. Just pull the bar down to 3-4 inches in front of you.

Lower Back Strain

This is a common injury at the gym, especially with those who don’t practice a proper form. Like the neck, the back relies on proper posture and, when it doesn’t get that support, it can cause a strain in the lower back. A sharp pain, while doing squats can be an indication that you’ve put a strain on your back. To prevent this type of strain, practice working with your neutral back posture, before you begin lifting or doing squats. By laying on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, you can experience your natural posture. Get comfortable with this posture, before advancing your workout.

Stress Fractures

These a tiny, hairline cracks in the bones of the lower legs, shins, and feet. Generally, they are caused by performing a repetitive motion too excessively, or they can be caused by overexertion. Symptoms of stress fractures include sharp, shooting pain in the foot and shins, making it difficult to walk. Jumping, running, walking, and even standing still can cause the pain to grow worse and the area around the shin and ankle may swell. To prevent stress fractures, start slowly and increase the intensity of your workouts gradually. Each week, you can boost your workout safely by 10%, giving your body time to adjust and build muscle.

Sprained Ankle

This is common in every sport, among runners, and also in gym workouts. This often happens when you’re running and not paying attention to your footing. A misstep can cause your foot to twist beneath you, bending the ankle in an awkward position. The best way to prevent sprains is to run or jog on flat, even surfaces. If you’re on the treadmill, don’t forget to wear the clip that will stop the machine if you lose your balance. Outdoors, try to stay on concrete when running, as natural trails may be uneven and littered with branches and rocks.

Staying safe is important during any physical activity. To that end, be sure to wear the proper protective equipment and follow safety guidelines for that activity. While getting a good workout is your goal, overdoing it can lead to accidents and injuries that may leave you sidelined.

 

Convincing kids to exercise can be one of the hardest tasks on the modern parent’s agenda. With today’s proliferation of technology regularly tempting children away from the sports-field and onto the couch, those 60 minutes of push-play a day have never been harder to enforce. After reading the up-to-date tips below, though, you’ll be armed with a bevy of ways to get kids exercising. Wondering how to get kids to exercise? Keep reading to find out.

  1. Be inventive!

When it comes to how to promote physical activity in schools, we all know that our best teachers came up with creative activities that totally distracted us from the exercise being done. From tug-a-rope to the playground, tag to swimming, there’s multitudes of fun to be had if you think outside the box a little. There are also lots of school programs that one can explore and try!

  1. Remind them that it’s what the cool kids do

One of the best ways to motivate kids to be active is by reminding them just how common it is to join a group sport, or to take part in a class-based exercise. Whether baseball or hockey, ballet or judo, one of your kid’s friends is bound to be doing it – and often, that simple fact will be motivation enough.

  1. Make your home into a space for activity

Activity doesn’t just have to be done outside, or in purpose-built spaces – it can take place within the walls of your family home, too (especially when winter takes outside exercise out of the equation). There are many ways to keep your kids active indoors, including repurposing a spare room into a gym, purchasing activity-based technology like a Wii, or getting your hands on a family fitness video that you can all have a good old dance to.

  1. Implement a rewards system (within reason)

It’s never a great idea to promise your kid a bag of lollies after they complete a lap around the block, but other rewards of a slightly-healthier nature – like extra pocket money or their choice of a dinner meal – can work a treat in sustaining exercise habits.

  1. Tie activity in with the to-and-from-school commute

On the back of the previous point, you might consider telling your kids that in exchange for their walking or biking to school, you’ll organise a regular movie night for the weekend. That way, you gain some extra time in the morning, as well – it’s a win-win!

  1. Resources, resources, resources

Sometimes kids are object-based exercisers and need something physical to base their activity around. By buying a resource like a trampoline for your backyard, your kids will be moving before you know it.

  1. Get started early

The best thing that you can do to encourage kids to exercise is to normalize it in the family environment. If you don’t exercise on a regular basis, how can you expect your child to want to? Making a habit of family exercise, such as hikes, active summer holidays, and sport-watching will afford your kids a positive attitude towards exercise for life. Here are 7 great ways on how to get kids to exercise!

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Each year at this time there’s a huge commercial attention placed on the status of your heart – is it broken, lonely, filled, overflowing, fragile or hardened? Just how much chocolate does it take to mend a wounded heart? How many flowers prove one heart loves another? How many sappy love songs confirm no one has the answers to the mystery of this thing we call love, which seemingly comes from our heart?

If this love struck holiday gets you thinking about the status of your heart, then the most important question to ask yourself this month is: “How STRONG is my heart?”  I don’t mean strong as in resilient. We’ve all been through a few daisies (“he/she loves me -loves me not”) and we ultimately get over it.  

What I mean is how efficiently is your heart performing? With each heartbeat your heart pumps blood around your body. Blood provides your body with the oxygen and nutrients it needs to function and it also carries away waste.  The average heartbeat is 72 times per minute. In the course of one day it beats over 100,000 times. In one year the heart beats almost 38 million times, and by the time you are 70 years old it beats an average of 2.5 billion times. That may be hard to comprehend considering your heart weighs less than a pound, but it’s a busy little muscle with more work to do than a hungry mosquito at a nude beach.

If your heart is unable to pump the amount of blood required to meet all of your body’s needs, then blood is diverted away from less-crucial areas, including your arms and legs, in order to supply the heart and brain.  When this happens you will often begin to feel weak and tired. Then, simple, ordinary activities such as walking, climbing stairs or carrying groceries will begin to feel exhausting.

The good news here is that unless you have some pre-diagnosed heart condition, you have control over how healthy your heart can be. Yes, you have the power to create a healthy heart through what you choose to eat, how you choose to use your body and the life you choose to live.

You are what you eat and that is not a cliché. (Think about that the next time you reach for a Ding Dong!) We live in a world of convenience with quick bites and fast foods practically knocking on our doors. Unfortunately, the “good for you” food isn’t always around. But if you will simply make a daily effort to put fresh, clean food in your body on a regular basis there is a higher chance t your arteries won’t get clogged up with junk and your heart will be able function efficiently.

Unless you‘ve been living under a rock for the last, let’s say ten years or so, you should have some idea of the do’s and don’ts of eating healthy. It’s practically impossible to screw it up if you just use some common sense. Did it grow in the ground or on a tree and are you eating it in as close to its natural state as it can be, like an apple? Good. Is it wrapped in plastic, like a caramel apple? Not so good. Did you get a 2 for 1 deal at the drive through, like fried apple pies? Run Toto Run!

Now back to your heart. Your heart is a muscle and to make it stronger it needs to be trained just like all the other muscles in your body. You do that by getting your heart pumping by moving with vigor and energy. I know some of you think treadmills, stair climbers and cross trainers are the devil’s spawn, but sweat and dedication on these machines can help create healthy hearts.

There are endless ways to raise your heart rate and strengthen your heart and they don’t have to be regimented to a piece of equipment.  James Brown suggested many years ago: “Get up off that thang and dance til you feel better!” I agree. Dance! It frees the soul and is a great way to express yourself at the same time. Walk the dog, skate, swim, play tennis, take a bike ride or just pucker up with your Valentine; because even a good roll in the hay has its cardio advantages!

Living as stress free as possible is one of the best ways you can protect your heart. All too often we get way too caught up in the daily little nuisances that trip us up and raise our blood pressure: bad drivers, bad breath, irritating co-workers, annoying sounds, lost  homework, lost causes, lost keys, long lines, short patience, and the list goes on. These things add up and can cause stress to your heart’s performance without you even being aware of it. Try your best laugh things off when you can, like you do when you’re watching your favorite sitcom and these things happen to someone else.

Nuisances, however you define them, will be with us for a long time. Get over them and don’t let them get the best of you, it’s not worth the stress and potential damage you can do to your heart.  Instead, lighten up and live longer. If you’re going to harbor things in your heart, make sure the things you hold close are positive and worth holding on to. Leave the stress behind so your heart can thrive. Your heart has plenty of room for good company.

 

Connie Cook
Area Group Fitness Director
Fit Athletic Club