Sports injury prevention is as simple as one, two and three. Think of it in terms of three dimensions: around the body, on the body and in the body. When developing an injury prevention plan, each dimension is equally important.
Around the body
Increase awareness of the body and the physical environment. Do this by checking the athletic facility to make sure it is free of harmful objects that athletes can easily run into or be injured. Athletes too, can take part in checking for a safe environment. It will help them to be more aware of their surroundings.
Include proprioceptive and kinesthetic awareness activities in training to help increase awareness of what is around the body. Such activities include those that challenge balance and equilibrium or include coordination and movement patterns. Awareness of where the body is in space reduces the chance of dangerous situations occurring. “Around the body” is a dimension that is easily overlooked.
On the body
Proper equipment helps prevent injury. This includes proper fitting protective gear, supportive and well-fitting shoes and appropriate attire for the weather. Equipment should be inspected prior to the season and replaced if worn out or poor fitting. It also may be necessary to inspect equipment throughout the season to ensure equipment is still fitting well and in good working order.
Be attentive to the weather. Check the weather each day and choose the appropriate attire based on weather conditions.
In the body
Consider prevention strategies that increase strength and coordination and those that keep the body fueled. This dimension includes proper body mechanics, preseason conditioning, warm-up and cool down activities, progression of athletic practice intensity, nutrition and hydration.
A well-thought plan before the athletic season is essential to prevent injury in the body. It starts with education. Learning and understanding proper body mechanics for athletic activities helps develop a solid foundation. A preseason conditioning program that teaches proper body mechanics will help athletes progressively condition in preparation for the intensity of the athletic season. Athletic practice sessions also should have a progression including starting each practice with a dynamic warm-up lasting 10 to 15 minutes. Intensity of the practice should progress as the session continues and end with a cool down.
Educate athletes on nutrition and hydration. What fuels the body affects strength, stamina and focus. The dimension of “in the body” has multiple focuses and is best executed when an effective plan is in place.
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