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Avoid Injuries while Doing Sports

As we draw close to the twilight of the fun-filled sunny season, it’s a signal to greet that time of the year which brings new life experiences and add another chapter in our lives. Without further ado, let’s welcome school year 2011-2012.

It’s back to school for students and parents alike. Early mornings, long afternoons, and late nights are all just part of the equation. Not to mention numerous assignments, random calls from classroom advisers, and busy extracurricular activities.

Meanwhile, it’s quite notable that year after year, aside from sticking to the academic aspect of the curriculum, schools do their best in adhering to the philosophy of keeping their students fit and healthy. You heard that right—fit and healthy. Hence, the undeletable subject of Physical Education in the course list. That’s great news considering the increasing number of health risks someone is subjected to due to lack of physical activity and unhealthy living.

Adults very much encourage young people to engage in any form of exercise (and the ball games—basketball, baseball, and football, etc.—are the most popular). These competitive sports not only teach the values of team-play, selflessness, and humility, they also build a strong physical foundation for healthy bodies.

At a tender age, there is no harm in getting involved in sports. And though cautions are given on being careful while playing around, it is sometimes unavoidable that mishaps (read: injuries) may occur. Scratches, bumps, and bruises are perfectly fine, but injuries are a totally different story altogether. Neck sprain, shoulder pains, sore back, broken hips, swollen ankles, name it! It is simply part of the game. And it happens to anyone; the clumsy ones, the active ones, and the not-so-active ones.

Yet we continue to give much liberty for sports so that we increase the possibility of having a healthier and more fulfilling early life. The risk of injuries will always be present, but this should not dampen our advocacy for a healthy lifestyle. But worry not for there are very simple reminders to buffer bodily impairment. For parents and students, here are some tailor-fitted tips in order to reduce the occurrence of injuries when playing ball games.

Identify
By far, the single most important tip one must consent to in countering injuries. Identify if there is any preexisting physiological limitation in your body—say, rickets, Paget’s syndrome, muscle dystrophy, or hypotonia¬that would restrain movement.

In this situation, a school’s medical, physical, and dental screenings provide significant information about a student’s wellness. Most if not all institutions are obliged to administer such tests before the start of the academic year.

For students, I know it may sound a little boring and more often than not time-consuming—I recommend you take them. The process would help determine whether or not you are free to endeavor in any activity offered in or outside the school; or give some advice if conditional health matters should be considered. Also, keep in mind that identifying any minor or major concern is the first of several steps in preventing future injuries.

Educate
Don’t worry, this is not the type of classroom education wherein you are required to create a hypothesis, deduce it, then prove it. It is something you would find very handy in case you intend to scuffle, dribble, swing, tackle, dash, or kick. Ball games are home to some of the most common injuries in the sporting manual. Make sure you are aware of such (in case it happens) and how to deal with it. The list includes:

Shoulder strain. The muscle fibers in the tendons are torn—disconnecting muscles to the bones. This is likely due to overstretching.
Pulled hamstring. Tears in the muscle fibers and tendons associated with the hamstring muscles and the thigh.
Sprained ankle. Landing hard or twisting your foot can cause tear on the ligaments. The ankle starts to swell as muscles are stressed.
Stress fracture. Microscopic break in the outer layer of a bone that develops from the consistent stress on running and high-impact activities.
Achilles tendinitis. Inflammation of the Achilles tendon just above the heel; often a result of week calf muscles.

A lot of people react with nervousness and tension. Thus, injuries are aggravated and left untreated. Above everything else, maintain composure and clarity of mind. And when you encounter any incident, keep in mind that there are very simple elements you should remember before reacting to the situation.

Regardless of what body part is injured, you should rest it right away. As soon as you realized an injury has occurred, cease any kind of movement involving the body part. This will prevent aggravating the pain. After resting, the body part should be iced. The cold environment stops internal bleeding. After that, use compression. It decreases swelling and slows bleeding, limiting the accumulation of blood.

And finally, elevate. Elevating the injured body part above heart level decreases swelling and pain. Remember these easy steps and treat injuries immediately.

Equipment
I remember putting on my running/training shoes when I played hoops once in the past. I figured, “Hey, I use this for gym training so why can’t I use it to play?”

Big mistake!

For the next 7 days, I felt like my feet were being slowly torn apart. It was sore and discomforting; my usual walking design is off. What’s my point? On any day, of course you could do bare feet in the playing in the field, on hard wood, or in the diamond—no one is stopping you.

On a normal play occasion, however, we put on those sleek and trendy shoes either for basketball, baseball, or football. The brand doesn’t matter—as long as it looks good. What is more important is how this footwear would affect your movement and performance.

Playing ball games loads a lot of pressure on your knees and ankle. Incidentally, today’s technology has given birth to sport-specific shoes that optimize your body function. And if you are a purist of any game, this is an awesome breakthrough.

There are shoes that automatically adjust cushion, tension, and grip; they read the wearer’s intensity and foot action. Others have the ability to monitor heart rate, absorb shock, minimize impact, and some even has an mp3 player to boot. So for this tip, I propose that you carefully choose the next footwear you’ll be wearing to prevent injuries and to boost your game.

Maintain
Now that you got yourself all geared up for ball sports, why not take it to another level? What happens is that the reason a bunch of students only play or participate in physical education, for example, is because it is required.

There is insufficient exercise, activity, or games outside the campus—disabling your body to cope with sudden physical demands on the playing grounds; ergo, higher risk for injuries.

Trust me, an hour and a half of physical education is not an instant pill you can swallow, and become very agile afterwards. Why not bring your game beyond the school grounds? Pay a visit to your local community park and check if the venue offers any sport. If you find yourself detached from any of these, why not do simple walks or jogs in the mornings and afternoons. Or better yet, enroll in yoga, Pilates, cycling, or a fitness program.

At least 3 days a week of sufficient movement should do the trick. One of the keys in developing a less injury-prone body is to maintain its mobility through physical activity.

Recover
The last, but definitely not least, of injury-preventing tips (and a personal favorite): recover. It is pretty straightforward. As you slug it out in any ball game or activity, you consume a considerable amount of calories, burns up stored fat, and uses up muscle mass.

For starters, this effect is noticeably apparent as you drench in sweat, gasp for air, and feel the throbbing sore in your body. And that soft and comfy mattress begins to appear heavenly. It is now imperative you follow this basic guideline.
Sleeping is one the components of recovering. Although studies may vary in terms of sleep experiment results, you should personally have a “feel” of how much dozing hours is needed.

It is necessary for the cognitive (mental) as well as the physical revitalization of your body. However, one thing is certain about this aspect of recuperating: never sleep way too late at night. Meanwhile, eating is also essential in preventing delayed onset muscle soreness.

In your post game down time, a proven recovery meal is a chicken or tuna sandwich—add on some lettuce, tomato, and pickles—your body would be celebrating. Not to forget a couple servings of hefty banana. I’m sure you are well aware of the benefits of this fruit crop (tryptophan, iron, fiber, and potassium, just to name a few). Since you will definitely be low in sugar and energy after playing, this wonder fruit provides immediate replacement for lost nutrients.

For the rest of the day, fill your plate with greenies and lean white meat. Remember your fresh juices and eight glasses of water. Stir away from sodas and fatty foods because they slow down your recovery.

To all the back-to-schoolers out there, remember that school allows you to explore new things both inside and outside the classroom. Enjoy each to the fullest. And before we finally ring the bell to commence the next academic year, bring these tips along with you. School is much more enjoyable without having the hassles of carried clutches, mounted cast, or rolled bandages!

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