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Sept. 1, 2012
INJURY PREVETION IS NOT A SORE SUBJECTLisa Cachia
So here we are mid-season and I bet nearly all of you can site a sore spot or two on your body. The question is how do we avoid injury and what do we do when it happens?
As we look at injury prevention, let’s start with a look at pain.
First, pain is a method of communication from your body letting you know there is something wrong. Pain comes in two forms; acute as in the case of an impact or trauma of some kind and chronic as in long term aches and pains that usually come on more subtly but can become debilitating if not addressed.
In the case of acute pain, most people tend to get the message when an impact or trauma occurs and stabbing pain runs through the body that they have just been injured. Chronic pain can be the result of overuse injuries or returning to pre-injury activities too soon and without proper rehabilitation. Either way, some attention is warranted and ignoring the pain message can only lead to more problems.
Avoiding pain is the reason for injury prevention. No one wants to experience pain. We recognize that with vigorous activity some muscle soreness and stiffness is expected, but by taking a proactive short- and long-term approach to injury prevention, we can minimize pain and maximize performance.
Here are a few actions that if employed consistently can decrease risk of injury and pain while increasing enjoyment of your sport and overall quality of life:
General Conditioning: Adopting a balanced program including cardiovascular exercise, strength training and flexibility is key to maintaining health and preventing injuries. Accumulating at least 30 minutes of moderate level activity most days of the week will better prepare your body for more vigorous activity later. If you are pressed for time, break it up into three 10-minute rounds each day.
Moderate activities include but are not limited to things like walking the dog or just walking yourself, casual bike ride outdoors or stationary bike, parking at the far end of the parking lot, actively playing with kids, taking the long way through the building and taking the stairs. If you’re stumped, consult a fitness professional for ideas appropriate to your level of fitness and desired goals.
Learn to Stretch: Taking the time to stretch major muscles of the upper and lower body each day can increase range of motion thereby preventing acute injury (tears, strains and sprains) to soft tissues. It’s also relaxing and may relieve sore muscles that are not otherwise injured.
Game Day: For the best chance of injury prevention on game day, employ the following actions.
Be well rested, well fueled, well hydrated and warm up before play.
* Get a good night‘s sleep before a game.
* Have a nutritious meal three or so hours before you play. In the case of multiple games or tournaments, have nutritious snacks available.
* Drink plenty of water through the day before games and during play. Sports drinks can be helpful in maintaining proper nutritional balances during extended activities. Being well hydrated also means to lay off the booze before and during games. Alcohol dehydrates your body, which makes soft tissue less pliable and increases risk of injury. Alcohol impairs overall performance, which can also lead to injury.
* Before the game (or practice), take the time to properly warm up your body. Ten to 15 minutes of moderate cardio vascular exercise followed by some dynamic stretches prepares the body for vigorous action, improves performance and prevents injury. Because of the nature of softball, it is important to stay warm throughout the game. While you‘re waiting in the dugout, do a few jumping jacks, knee raises, walk around or whatever suits you but keep moving and periodically stretching. All players and especially pitchers need to warm up with some light throws before and during games. Shoulder injury is among the most common in softball.
If you experience pain, stop moving and listen to your body. In the case of acute injury, seek first aid immediately. Go to the hospital if necessary to get your parts checked out. For non-¬¬emergency sprains, strains and bruises, employ the concept of R.I.C.E: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
For chronic pain that is not relieved by R.I.C.E, seek medical attention and do what the doctor or physical therapist says. Not doing so may keep you out of the game longer or permanently. Wait until you are completely healed before returning to play or risk more pain and injury that may require more drastic measures than rest, patience and exercise to relieve. When returning to play, start off slowly or risk reinjuring your body and you are back to square one again or worse.
Understand that the conditioned body performs better and heals faster. Make time to exercise and stretch a little every day for injury prevention on and off the field and for better heath at any age.
Remember when it comes to being active, it’s no pain all gain!
It is important to have regular health check ups. Please consult your physician before beginning any new exercise program.