Regardless of whether you’re a mad-keen sports star or a social walker, having a physical injury isn’t much fun. To help you stay active while avoiding injuries, read on to learn more about strains and sprains and how to prevent them happening.

What causes strains and sprains?

Strains or sprains are generally injuries to our soft tissue. Soft tissue connects and supports the structures and organs in our body and includes tissues like our muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia, nerves, fibrous tissues, fat, and blood vessels.

When we move, our muscles and tendons use soft contractions to monitor the degree of our stretch and prevent us from stretching too far. If we move too suddenly or with too much force, the tissue can’t tolerate it and we tear the tissue fibres, which results in a strain or sprain.

How to prevent a strain or sprain

Warm up and cool down

Warm up to help promote blood flow to your muscles and increase flexibility, which will reduce your chances of injury. Begin your warm up at a low intensity and gradually build up pace. Cool down after you exercise to reduce muscle stiffness and soreness. Include a few minutes of low intensity exercise followed by five minutes of gentle stretching.

Work up to it

It’s not a good idea to overdo it when starting a new activity as this could increase your risk of pulling a muscle or getting heat exhaustion. A good rule of thumb is the ‘FIT’ method: Frequency, Intensity and Time. Up the ante on one of these principles each week and you’ll improve at a consistent and safe pace.

Make sure the shoe fits

The right pair of shoes can help to absorb impact and provide support to your ankles and feet. This is really important if you play sports like netball and football where knee and ankle injuries are common. Sports podiatrists, physiotherapists, physicians, or specialist shoe shops can help you choose the right shoe.

Wear protective gear

If you play a contact sport like rugby or football, protective gear can be a make or break. Things like knee pads, helmets, mouthguards, and gloves can all help reduce the risk of impact and injuries. So lace up and brace up.

If you have a sport’s injury, getting help early can reduce your recovery time, plus could prevent the injury from reoccurring.

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