You don’t need me to tell you that taking part in sport is a healthy thing to do. Except of course at those times when injury strikes and suddenly you’re out of the game, on the bench – and if you’re really unlucky – off to the nearest A&E unit.
If this has happened to you recently, you’re not alone. According to official NHS figures, the number of people attending A&E units with sports injuries every year is 388,500 and this figure has jumped by 15% compared to the year before.
About half of all these cases were men aged 10 to 29 and the peak times for these injuries were Saturday afternoons and Sundays between 11am and 4pm – the most popular times when sports are usually played, so no surprise there then!
Here’s my advice to help you prevent injuries and if they strike, how to get back on your feet as quickly as possible…
In recent times, common sports injuries have been in the ankles. This is because everybody is getting a lot stronger, bigger and faster so when ankles are caught in awkward positions the percentage of them getting injured has gone up.
This is the same for all knee injuries these days, which keeps players out of games for long periods of time due to ligament damage. The stress on the ligaments, brought on by the weight of other players, means they usually tear or rupture and are left requiring surgery.
In rugby especially, shoulder injuries often crop up just because of the nature of the sport! Acromioclavicular (AC) joint injuries around the shoulder are really common, as is the danger of developing structural issues in tendons and ligaments.
Concussion injuries are also increasing in sports and are usually due to head clashes, causing some players to be knocked out. As you can imagine, these are usually hard to prevent! And let’s not forget those annoying injuries like broken fingers and toes which are also difficult to avoid, but are extremely common.
To guard against injuries such as ankle and knee ligaments, a lot of prehabilitation work is done to help protect these parts of the body. So, for example, a lot of what’s known as proprioceptive work is done in sports, to help strengthen the ligaments and tendons around bones when they are under a lot of stress.
There are simple and common exercises, such as hopping on one foot whilst keeping your eyes closed, which you could try, to help prevent these kinds of problems developing.
Getting back on your feet
If you do get injured and you’re out of action for a period of time, there are many things that can be done to help speed up recovery.
In the early stages of an injury it is massively important to look after it. So for ankle and knee ligament injuries, a lot of ice is needed to help reduce swelling and compression is also often tried to aid this treatment. It’s also helpful to keep your limbs in an upright position and try to keep off your feet as much as possible. Your physiotherapist [if you have one], will usually tell you what you need to do and when.
Diet is massivley important to get the right nutrients and minerals into your body to help your recovery and also to help prevent putting fat on! Obviously staying off alcohol is going to be beneficial and eating plenty of fruit and veg is strongly advised.