Injury Prevention and Training
Screening for muscle imbalances is at the forefront of injury prevention.
The rationale behind this is that there are detectable and correctable
abnormalities of muscle strength and length that are fundamental to the
development of almost all musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. Detection
of these abnormalities and correction before an injury has occurred should
be part of any injury prevention strategy. Assessment of muscle strength
and balance and regular sports massage can be beneficial in this strategy.
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Reduce Muscle Stiffness Through Dynamic Stretches
Muscle stiffness refers to the ratio between the change in muscle resistance
and the change in muscle length. Muscle stiffness is directly related
to muscle injury risk, so it is important to reduce muscle stiffness as
part of a warm up. Research has indicated that only dynamic stretches
– slow controlled movements through the full range of motion –
decrease muscle stiffness. Static exercises did not decrease muscle stiffness.
Static stretches are perhaps more appropriate for the cool down as they
help to relax the muscles and increase their range of movement.
How to Treat a Trigger Point Properly
A trigger point (TP) is a thick knot in a muscle that is tender or even
painful to the touch. Trigger points can be caused by training errors,
inadequate preparation, worn shoes or equipment, poor biomechanics, muscle
fatigue, poor flexibility, nutritional factors and even psychological
factors such as a lack of sleep or stress. Treatment of a trigger point
(separating the fibers of the muscle knot) can be achieved by applying
direct pressure to the point for 10 to 20 seconds, gradually releasing
the pressure. You should repeat this process about four or five times.
Trigger points can be an early warning for serious injuries, so checking
for TPs is beneficial.
Understanding the Benefits of Resistance Training
Resistance training can fortify muscles and make them less susceptible
to damage, especially if the exercises involve movements that are similar
to those associated with the sport. Time should be devoted to developing
the muscle groups, strength training, appropriate to the demands of your
sport. If you are a thrower, then lots of time should be spent developing
muscles at the front of the shoulder that increase the force with which
you can throw. You must also work systematically on the muscles at the
back of the shoulder, which control and stabilize the joint.
Prevent an Injury By Giving Your Body Time to Rest
There are some predictors of injury that apply to all sports. For example,
fatigued muscles do a poor job of protecting their associated connective
tissues, increasing the risk of damage to bone, cartilage, tendons and
ligaments. If you increase your training load or train for consecutive
days make sure you allow for recovery. Recovery time reduces injury rates
by giving muscles and connective tissues an opportunity to restore and
repair themselves between work-outs.
Here are a few more injury prevention tips:
- Avoid training when you are tired.
- Increase your consumption of carbohydrates during periods of heavy training.
- Increase in training should be matched with increases in resting.
- Any increase in training load should be preceded by an increase in strengthening.
- Treat even minor injuries very carefully to keep them from becoming a big problem.
- If you experience pain when training, STOP your training session immediately.
- Never train hard if you are stiff from the previous effort.
- Pay attention to hydration and nutrition.
- Use appropriate training surfaces.
- Make sure training and competition areas are clear of hazards.
- Make sure that equipment is appropriate and safe to use.
- Introduce new activities very gradually.
- Allow lots of time for warming up and cooling off.
- Check over training and competition courses beforehand.
- Train on different surfaces, using the right footwear.
- Shower and change immediately after the cool down.
- Aim for maximum comfort when traveling.
- Stay away from infectious areas when training or competing very hard.
- Be extremely fussy about hygiene in hot weather.
- Monitor daily for signs of fatigue. If in doubt, ease off.