Minimizing Injuries in Sport

Many common sports injuries can be side-stepped. Having knowledge about the potential causes of injuries will help in reducing the incidence of sprains, strains, broken bones and etc.  Advance planning, adequate equipment, and facilities, counseling in the selection of activities all help to reduce the possibility of injury [1].

Minimizing Injuries in Sport

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Knowing about the potential causes of Injuries and how to minimize them is absolutely essential for everyone who practices in fitness and wellness. These will be discussed herewith briefly, together with the signs and symptoms of injury to equip you with the absolute crucial basics of minimizing injuries in sports.

The risk of injury increases with increased activity. Activity implies movement, and with increased movement comes a corresponding increase in the risk of injury [1]. In fitness programs, the frequency of injuries increases when the frequency of exercise sessions increases. The risk of injury is also increased by increased speed of movement, like competitive activities, in activities requiring a quick change in direction and activities that focus on smaller muscle groups [1]. Finally, environmental conditions such as extreme heat or cold can increase the risk associated with physical activity.

Lack of proper adaption to the environment, as well as lack of knowledge in the prevention, recognition, and methods of dealing with problems associated with these extreme environments, can lead to devastating results.

For either gender, a lack or an imbalance of muscle strength and a lack of joint flexibility increase the risk of injury. Obese individuals not only have low CRF, but excess weight places additional stress on the weight-bearing joints [1].

There are a number of common sporting injuries where a broader understanding will help you to become a more effective professional. Each sport has its own common injuries and they are largely based on the physical demands of that sport. Generally however and in most cases, an injury is often caused by the factors listed below.

An injury is often due to one or more of the following:-

  • Lack of training [2];
  • fatigue [2];
  • carelessness [2];
  • Poor quality/ poorly maintained facilities and equipment [2];
  • Poor quality/ poorly maintained surfaces [2];
  • Poor fitting equipment [2];
  • failure to use protective equipment [2].

Minimizing Injury Risk

The first thing to do to reduce the chance of minor or major injuries in sport and exercise activities is to screen the participants before any physical activity1. This should be the case especially if it is their first time engaging in physical activity, it will give you a sense of their capability. You can read more about fitness assessments here.

A major factor involved in reducing the risk associated with physical activity is the design and implementation of an individual’s exercise program. Howley and Don [1] Suggests that the program can focus attention on the problems encountered in the preliminary tests, which might include

  • Flexibility measures [1];
  • Body fitness determination [1];
  • Evaluation of muscular strength, power, and endurance [1];
  • Posture assessment [1];
  • and cardiovascular-fitness evaluation [1].

In educating the participants about the signs and symptoms of overuse. The Physical educator should focus their attention on distinguishing between simple muscle soreness and injury. Muscle soreness tends to peak 24 to 48-hours post exercise and dissipates with use and time.

The signs and symptoms of injury include

Exquisite point of tenderness [1];
pain that persists even when the body part is at rest [1];
joint pain [1];
pain that does not go away after warming up [1];
Swelling or discoloration [1];
Increases pain weight-bearing or acute movement [1];
Changes in normal bodily functions [1].

Knowing what causes an injury will aid in designing a fitness program with minimal chances of injury. When designing a program the fitness instructor should always keep in mind the capability of the athlete to avoid overuse injuries. It is the responsibility of the coach to ensure that the athlete is capable of carrying out specific exercises before they engage. This is why fitness assessment before an activity is important.

Taking these precautions into consideration during exercise will not only reduce the chances of injuries among athletes. They will also help your athletes perform better in the field. With fewer injuries taking place within the team, you will have enough time to invest in other important tasks, like winning games and further developing your athletes. 

  1. Edward, T Howley, and Franks, B Don. Health Fitness: Instructors Handbook. England: Human Kinetics, 1992.
  2. ALISON. Injury prevention. ALISON. [Online] February 23, 2016.
  3. Cartwright, Lorin A., and Pitney, William A. Primary assessment of athletic injuries. Human Kinetics. [Online]
  4. Gledhill, Adam, et al. Foundations in Sport. United Kingdom: Pearson Education Limited, 2016.
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Thando W. Dlamini, BA

Sport Development and Exercise Science Practitioner

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  1. October 27, 2018

    […] Suggested Reading for you Minimizing Injuries in Sport […]

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