How to prevent sports injuries

Sometimes preventing common sports injuries is beyond our control, particularity in contact sports, but many times sports injuries are preventable.   Understanding how these injuries come about and following some simple rules and tips can help us to reduce them.

How they happened:

The most frequent types of sports injuries are sprains (injuries to ligaments) strains (injuries to muscles), and stress fractures (injuries to bones). Injury occurs when excessive stress is placed on tendons, joints, bones and muscle. There are explained in more depth here by the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists.

  • Trauma- direct trauma such as a blow to the thigh can cause bleeding and inflammation in the muscle(dead leg). Falling on an outstretched arm could result in a shoulder dislocation or wrist fracture. Indirect trauma as in landing awkwardly in a tackle could result in a ligament rupture (cruciate tear), muscle tear (hamstring) or a torn cartilage.
  • Overuse- repetitive actions can strain muscles, ligaments and tendons. Common in sports with repetitive throwing or gripping such as tennis and golf. Sports such as football with a strong rotary action can result in recurrent hip and groin pain.
  • Biomechanical- our body type has a strong bearing on our ability to cope with the demands made by sporting actions. In dynamic activities, for example, the foot is the propeller. Poor alignment of the foot will cause undue strain on the joints of the lower limb and lumbar spine.

Top tips for prevention:

Warm up

To prevent many common types of injury, every game or workout should start with a gentle warm-up. Getting warmed up increases blood flow to the muscles and gets you more flexible. Whether the activity is skiing, running, or playing a group sport such as rugby or football, stretching keeps the body flexible. Stretching again after the activity should be part of an injury prevention plan, too.

The right gear

Equally important is to wear the right clothes or equipment. Proper gear for your sport including helmets, pads, shoes, sunglasses, gloves and layered clothing are designed to protect you and minimize the chance of injury.

Follow the rules

Following the rules of the sport or the equipment you are using is also essential.  They are in place for a reason.   If you are using specialist equipment or exercise machines, get skills' training from a certified coach or instructor.  In contact sports in particular, keep to the rules and listen to advice or instructions from the referee and coach.


Use specific skills training to prepare for your sport, whatever it might be. Always use proper body mechanics in sports involving repetitive stress to the upper extremities. (tennis, baseball, golf).   Cross train for overall conditioning and to allow specific muscles to rest.

Listen to your body

Listen to your body. Pain is a warning sign of injury. You should not work through pain but stop or slow your activity until the pain subsides.

If you are injured consult a Chartered Physiotherapist.

A Chartered Physiotherapist is a university graduate with hospital-based training who has comprehensive knowledge of how the body works and has specialist training in the diagnosis and treatment of injuries.

Sports injuries advice from the Irish Society of Chartered Physiotherapists available here. 


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