Tips to Live By

5 Tips for Avoiding Sports Injuries

Oct. 7, 2019

Whether you’re the parent of a young athlete or a weekend warrior yourself, it’s important to play it smart to avoid sports injuries.

Dr. Alex Schroeder, orthopedic surgeon at Houston Methodist, encourages athletes to balance their training by playing a range of different sports instead of focusing on one sport for long periods of time.

“Athletes may push too hard for performance in one specific skill set — swinging, throwing, running or weightlifting, for example. Baseball, softball and tennis players may suffer from shoulder overuse injuries or elbow pain from throwing too hard or too frequently. Runners may develop pain around the knee cap or shin splints from overdoing it," Dr. Schroeder says.

Those who play sports that involve sudden stops, jumps and changes in direction are also at risk for knee injuries.

“It’s common to have knee injuries such as meniscus tears or anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears in sports like football, basketball and soccer. With meniscus tears and ACL tears, it’s best to seek medical care right away,” Dr. Schroeder adds.

How to prevent sports injuries

Heading off a sports injury before it happens can be one of the best ways you can stay active and in the game.

Dr. Schroeder offers the following advice to help athletes and parents prevent sports injuries:

  • Wear proper-fitting shoes and use proper equipment designed for the sport.
  • Start out slow with a new training regimen. Periods of rest are important, too.
  • Warm up and stretch before and after exercising.
  • Incorporate cross-training activities for a balanced workout routine.
  • Avoid playing when you’re tired or in pain. Listen to what your body tells you and you can avoid pushing too far.

Dr. Schroeder also reminds parents of young athletes to be careful not to push them too hard.

“It’s better to have your child sit out for a short period of time with an injury and heal completely, than to deal with recurring injuries. Encourage kids to have fun with a mix of different sports,” he says.

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