Injury Prevention: Common Misconceptions, Avoid Overtraining, Psychological Factors
Any type of injury to a normal person can be very devastating, but to an athlete it is even more difficult. Sports person or athletes want to decrease or even eliminate their chances of injury when playing any sport because injuries play havoc on a sports person's life. Due to injuries, athletes are not able to perform to their full capacity and they don't have much spare time to enjoy other recreational activities. Injuries also lower an athlete's fitness and confidence levels. Studies have proved that if an athlete takes proper preventative action then they can reduce their rate of injury by almost 25%.
It is commonly believed by the coaches and athletes that males have higher rate of injury when compared to females and they also have a higher health insurance cost than females. But the reason for this is because males do not have the same length of life as the females and both the male and female athletes suffer from equal injury rate per hour when training. It is also commonly thought that high speed, such as seen in running, is directly proportionate to the injury, but research has proved this as wrong and there is no connection between the risk of injury and speed.
The risk of injury depends a lot on the amount and the intensity of the training. Research has shown that the amount of training done is the best indicator to the amount of injury which may occur. If the athlete has over-trained, it results in muscle fatigue and muscles in this stressed condition are not able to protect their related connective tissues thus increasing the chances of injury/damage to the bone, tendons, ligaments and cartilage.
There are 2 ways through which you can predict injury. One is if the athlete has been injured before, then the chances of re-injury are higher when compared to an athlete who has never suffered any injury before. Exercising on a regular basis helps in revealing the weak regions in the body. If the biomechanics are poor during exercises and if the knees are put through heavy stress/burden, then they are more likely to get injured when playing a sport for a long time. Once after the athlete has recovered and starts training again without changing or modifying the biomechanics, then the chances of his knees getting injured again are extremely high.
The second injury predictor is the amount of training done or the number of successive days of training done each week. Studies have shown that decreasing the number of successive days of training done each week also decreases the risk of injury.
Research has shown that an athlete's psychological state plays an important role in the occurrence of injury. If the athlete is tense, angry, compulsive and aggressive then that athlete's chances of suffering from injury are more than those athletes who are relaxed and calm. Stress results in tight muscles and tendons which increase the risk of injury or damage during training.
Weak or tired muscles are more prone to injuries as they are not able to put up with the pressure of playing sports and training for them. Athletes who suddenly increase their training regime, such as running, are more prone to developing problems in foot or ankle. They suffer from other problems such as soreness in the hamstrings and even low back pain. Due to weak muscles, their bodies are not sufficiently strong to deal with the increase in the training. Due to this reason, it is advisable to combine the regular training regime with resistance training.
Studies have shown that finding out any imbalances of the muscles helps in injury prevention. The reasoning for this is that musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction are caused due to abnormalities present in the muscle length and their strength which are not only detectable, but are also correctable. So, finding out these abnormalities and correcting them helps in preventing future injuries.
Muscle stiffness is the ratio between the difference in the muscle length and the difference in the muscle resistance. Stiffness of the muscles is directly linked to the risk of injury to the muscles. So, in order to decrease the muscle stiffness and thereby preventing injuries, it is very important to do proper warm up before starting any exercise or training. Stretching the muscles, especially dynamic stretches, are very suitable for warming up and static stretches are more suitable for cooling down or relaxing the body after any exercise or training. These stretches help in not only warming and relaxing the muscles, but also help in increasing their range of motion and flexibility.