How can coaches, trainers, and parents take action to prevent injuries headed into sports seasons? Top medical institutions like Johns Hopkins Medicine and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta support a total-health preventative approach, and provide much of the same guidance on the topic.
1. Return at a moderate pace
Gradual returns to sports prevent not just sudden sports injuries, but also overuse injuries. - cross train for variety of activities recruiting and challenging different muscles and bones - both strength training and cardio conditioning are important - flexibility, stretching, warm-up, and cool-down - hydration, nutrition, and sleep are also very important
2. Engage in various types of activities
Cross-training for a variety of activities or sports recruits and challenges different muscles and bones, contributing to better overall body health.
3. Take part in a complete fitness plan
Training in both strength training and cardiovascular conditioning provides a good balance of activity to build upon in any sport.
4. Fully utilize stretching, warm-up, and cool-down
Preparing the body to engage in physical activity and allowing it to properly cool down can help to prevent injuries - both soft-tissue and other. Stretching exercises can improve the ability of muscles to contract and perform, reducing injury risk.
5. Don’t skip other healthy habits
Hydration, nutrition, and sleep are just as important as in-sport workout movements in maintaining health and preventing injuries. Drink water to prevent dehydration and dangers like heat exhaustion. Eat foods that have good nutritional value, and make sure athletes are appropriately fueled for their activity level. And ensuring athletes get adequate amounts of sleep is critical. Rest promotes healing and recovery, which aid in injury prevention.
Important to note, as well - If an athlete does sustain a sports injury, make sure they participate in adequate rehabilitation before resuming strenuous activity. Return to Play protocols help youth sports trainers, organizers, and admins to manage this. Not fully healing from an initial injury and returning too quickly to full activity can lead to re-injury or other related injuries.