There are two main types of sports injuries: acute and overuse injuries.
Acute injuries include things like fractures and dislocated joints. Overuse injuries are aptly named because they come from repetitive work.
Surprisingly, one meaningful way to avoid injury starts with your core. Abdominal and hip strength will help to keep the rest of your body in check.
“When we see throwers who have Tommy John surgery – which repairs the elbow ligament – they’re always amazed because therapists will be focused on their hips and their core even though they have an arm injury,” says Dr. Harpreet Basran, a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon at Illinois Bone & Joint Institute. “It’s critical to preventing these injuries.”
Athletes used to develop core strength intuitively by participating in multiple sports. Today, though, many young athletes specialize in one sport, and that can lead to overuse.
“It’s the simple idea of cross-training that’s been around forever: if you move your muscles in a different pattern, it improves athletic performance,” says Dr. Justin Gent, an orthopedic sports medicine surgeon at Illinois Bone & Joint Institute.
For all athletes, it’s important to warm up properly, but it’s critical for older athletes and youths who are determined to play only one sport.
“The No. 1 injury prevention strategy is to make sure you have the right equipment and your body is prepared for the sport,” says Gent. “Warm it up, and make sure your flexibility is there. Especially for older patients, if you feel something is tired or sore or achy before you even start, you need to think about it or even skip paddleball. Listen to your body. Understand what you need to perform your sport well. That’s the best way to avoid getting hurt.”
Illinois Bone & Joint Institute has locations in Barrington, Algonquin, Crystal Lake, Kildeer and McHenry. Call (847) 381-0388 for an appointment.