“an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”
Injuries sometimes seem an inevitable part of being involved in sports. But they really don’t need to be. Of course, sometimes injuries are just accidents, and can’t be avoided, but often there are things we can do to reduce the likelihood, and severity of an injury, and to avoid recurrence. And that ounce of prevention could make all the difference.
There are essentially two types of risk factors for injury – internal and external.
Internal – are factors like age, gender, body composition and fitness level. One of the most consistent indicators of risk of injury is previous injury.
External – are things like weather conditions, court or field conditions, rules and equipment.
Risk factors can be modifiable (such as fitness level or rules) or non-modifiable (age, gender) and increases when internal and external factors combine. Risk changes when training schedules change in type or duration, and throughout a sporting season. It is therefore important to understand the sport and the type of training in order to assess the level, type and severity of risk of injury, and plan prevention measures.
Injury Prevention Strategies
There are three key phases to injury prevention:
Primary Prevention – involves health promotion, rule and regulation changes, education and cognitive training. This phase focuses on understanding how to avoid injury in the broadest sense and is primarily aimed at those who have not yet suffered an injury.
Secondary Prevention – is aimed at early diagnosis and intervention in the case of injury, in order to reduce the risk of disability and re-injury. This is the generally the treatment phase.
Tertiary Prevention – is focused on reducing or correcting the disability caused by an existing injury. This is what is known as the ‘rehabilitation’ phase.
Most Primary Prevention is undertaken at an educational and team/sporting body management level. Ensuring the rules are in place to avoid serious injury – like the wearing of helmets, or banning high tackles – is an important and ongoing process.
However, this doesn’t mean that the individual cannot take responsibility for their own injury prevention. Understanding the potential risks and ensuring you take them seriously is vital to avoiding injury. There are a range of things you can do:
- ensure you wear the appropriate protective equipment and that your shoes and other equipment are appropriate for the activity and in good order
- make sure you are fit to participate and that your training schedule is appropriate to the activity
- warm up before and cool down after all training and participating
- use bracing or taping to avoid injury in high risk activities
- make sure you are sufficiently hydrated, this should include the replacement of electrolytes
- ensure you allow adequate time for recovery in both training and participating
- ensure your diet is well- balance and contains enough protein, carbs and vitamins and minerals to effectively fuel your body during training and participating
- Regular Chiropractic treatment and massage therapy ensures your body is in peak condition for training and participating in any sports
Secondary Prevention for the athlete revolves around the treatment of injury and prevention of re-injury. Since previous injury is the one of the most common indicators of injury risk, this is vitally important.
If you do not seek the right treatment in a timely manner after injury you risk creating a weakness that will continue to cause problems throughout your sporting activities.
Immediately upon injury follow the Ricer method, which we have talked about before – Rest Ice Compress Elevate Repeat.
This should be followed up by consultation with an appropriate health care practitioner, based on the severity and type of injury. Scans or Xrays may be appropriate and treatment should begin as soon as practical.
If the injury is musculoskeletal see a qualified Sports Chiropractor for expert advice. They may also recommend Remedial Massage as part of your recovery process. Exercises will almost certainly be prescribed to help get you back to optimum strength and fitness.
Diet is an important part of this treatment as the body needs the right fuel to rebuild muscles effectively, particularly protein.
Tertiary Prevention, or Rehab, can be an ongoing activity. Some injuries take considerable time to resolve. Where injuries are old and were not treated properly when they happened, or were caused by underlying structural problems, Rehab may be aimed at correcting many months or even years of poor or incorrect movement. Your chiropractor may provide you with exercises aimed at correcting underlying problems to avoid re-injury.
Chiropractic treatment has a place in all phases of Injury Prevention. The earlier you get your Chiropractor involved in your training and participation schedule, the better able they will be to help you avoid injury and recover when injury does occur.
If avoiding injury is important to you, call our Hills District Clinic on 9639 7337 to make an appointment with our qualified Sports Chiropractor today – it could save you a pound of cure.