Preventing and Caring for Sports Injuries

Kristen Gushrowski, Sports Writer

With the Fall Sports season if full swing, athletes are working harder than ever to do their best in the Duneland Athletic Conference and the upcoming IHSAA State Tournaments. However, an injury could erase an athlete’s hard work in training and cause him or her to sit out a few games or an entire season. Here are some ways to prevent sports-related injuries and care for injuries that may occur.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (aap.org) gives basic ways for an athlete to prevent injuries. Athletes should make sure they are using the right gear. For example, volleyball players should wear knee pads, football players should wear helmets, and soccer players should wear shin guards. Conditioning and strengthening muscles during season and the off season is important, too. It may sound like a good idea to do ten less lunges than everyone else one day, but those lunges could be the difference between healthy legs and a pulled muscle while running and jumping.

Stretching is another key factor in preventing injuries. The more flexible and limber muscles are, the more mobility an athlete has while practicing. Our school trainer, Marnee Flinn-Smith, says that most athletes forget to stretch.

“It’s the simplest thing to prevent injuries,” said Marnee. “Stretching is the key to muscle function and how they work.”

If a sports injury unfortunately occurs, the National Institute of Health (niams.nih.gov) recommends several ways to care for the injury. First, stop practicing when there is pain. Practicing or working out with an injury can lead to more problems; a simple pulled muscle could end up tearing all together. Second, use the RICE method. Rest by not using the injured body part; Ice for 20 minutes at a time, four to eight times a day; Compress the injury using a bandage wrap to reduce swelling; and keep the injury Elevated to reduce swelling. Always see a doctor if weight is unbearable or if there is severe pain, swelling, or instability.

Marnee says it’s important to ice an injury, but recovering requires listening.

“Listen to your trainers!” said Marnee. “Listen to your body and don’t push it. If you feel something, get the attention you need right away so it doesn’t get worse.”

Taking precautions when practicing and taking the necessary steps to care for injury will help athletes this season stay on the field and off the bench!

Junior Megan Gushrowski Stretches her back and legs before gymnastics conditioning.
Junior Megan Gushrowski Stretches her back and legs before gymnastics conditioning.
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