Any time we step onto the field, the court or the swimming pool, and regardless of the sport we play, we are at risk of sustaining an injury. No matter how much you warm up, how fit and agile you are, something can just give up on you at a moment’s notice or repetitive strain can decide “nope, we’re done here” and start causing havoc with your body. When this happens we really need to listen to our bodies and see a doctor or physiotherapist as the longer we ignore an injury the worse it can get.
You need to determine the difference between that “good” pain where you enjoy the burn, and that “oh no something is definitely wrong” pain where your body is telling you you’re causing damage by doing this – jolting pains, dull pains and serious fatigue is a sure sign your body is in distress. Failure to realise the difference can mean the difference between not being able to do those last few reps in the gym, and never ever being able to lift a weight again – so listen carefully.
We’ve put together some of the most common injuries associated with cycling, cricket and football, and what you can do to prevent injury.
Cyclists often suffer injuries due to over training, commonly known as overuse injuries. Cyclists are in the same position for extended periods of time and can develop injuries such as:
- Hamstring strain
- Knee pain
- Handlebar palsy
- Lower back pain
- IT band syndrome (Iliotibial Band Syndrome)
Quick tips on preventing cycling injuries:
A vast majority of cycling injuries are easily prevented as recurring injuries are usually caused by a fall and overuse injuries are often caused due to poor set up of your bike, improper technique or incorrect posture. If you are finding that cycling is causing you pain see a doctor.
Correct set up
Have your bike set up by a professional and have a sports therapist take a look at your technique if you are considering competing or riding for long periods of time.
An effective warm up and stretch routine will increase the temperature of muscles, increase blood flow and get your joints ready for the ride ahead. Stretching will help to loosen muscles and ligaments whilst increasing range of motion. Stretch your lower back as well as your legs but don’t forget the hips too! It’s a good idea to warm up your wrists as stiff wrists will start to ache considerably.
Stay hydrated and as dehydrated muscles will cramp, consume protein to rebuild your muscles and eat healthy carbohydrates to refuel your body.
The most common injuries that cricketers suffer are ankle sprains, lower back pain and elbow/shoulder pains, but this will depend on the position in which they play. Cricket can be an explosive sport requiring players to dash from one area to another in an instant, so rolled ankles and Meniscus tears in the knee are quite common.
Bowlers may suffer more ankle and elbow problems whereas wicket keepers may start to suffer lower back pain due to standing in the same position for an extended amount of time. Fielders may also suffer shoulder or elbow injuries as the repetitive motion and the high forces associated with catching and throwing heavy cricket balls can put serious strain on joints.
Cricketers can develop the following injuries:
- Rotator cuff tears
- Impingement syndromes
- Medial ligament injuries at the elbow
- Throwers elbow (golfers elbow)
- Lower back pain
- Ankle sprains
- Meniscus injuries
Quick tips on preventing cricket injuries:
Cricket is a fairly safe sport and requires those in direct danger of being hit by a ball to wear protection so injuries caused by wayward balls or bats are fairly uncommon. However, as cricketers in general are becoming fitter and sportsmen are pushing themselves further to improve their game, injuries can be caused by uncoordinated movement or can arise due to overuse.
Get those muscles warmed up
An effective warm up routine as well as stretching, conditioning and a good diet can really help reduce the risk of injuries. A gentle jog to warm up the legs and ankles will help get your body ready for the game and a stretching routine that works your lower back, hamstrings, calf muscles and shoulders will really help. if you’re standing in the field for an extended period of time, keep limber by stretching or jogging on the spot every 20 minutes or so.
Sports massage can help
Sports massage is also a good way of ironing out any problems and flushing out any muscle waste. Having a regular sports massage can also help identify any potential problems before they start to cause serious damage or become injuries that may affect your game.
A healthy diet will help your body recover from training and exercise and give your body the correct fuel it needs. Hydration is important, especially on hot summer days. We all love to hit the bar after a game, but think twice before overdoing it. Our muscles need time to recover coupled with a healthy balanced meal packed with protein and good carbs.
Whether you’re a professional footballer or grass roots enthusiast playing the Sunday league, accidents and injuries on the pitch can happen. We’re talking about real injuries here – think the Djibril Cissé leg break in 2006 or the horrific concussion sustained by Germany’s Christoph Kramer in the 2014 World Cup and you realise just how dangerous a bad tackle can be.
Aside from a concussion here and there, football injuries occur predominantly in the legs, knees and ankles mainly through falls, slips or impact. Injuries can be sustained suddenly or through overuse resulting in chronic injuries. Some of the most common injuries associated with footballers are:
- Hamstring strains
- Knee ligament injuries
- Metatarsal stress fractures
Quick tips on preventing football injuries:
Footballers push themselves harder and harder to improve their game and their skills on the pitch. Although football is an explosive and physically demanding sport, injuries are usually caused through lack of preparation. With a correct warm up and conditioning you won’t have to worry about football injuries ruining your season.
Did we mention warm ups?
To reduce the risk of injuries an effective warm up is a must. A light jog with intermediate sprints, stretches and hip rotation warm ups will help reduce the risk of injury.
Stretching is vital should you wish to keep your hamstrings in top condition. After a warm up consisting of 20-30 minutes of light drills, a good stretch that focuses on calves, hamstrings, hips and ankles as well as your lower back will really help loosen up muscles.
The FIFA 11+ programme is a great reference point for specific football stretches and warm up routines designed to reduce injuries in football.
Remember, always warm up before any physical activity, whether you’re playing ping pong or stepping on to the mat in your Jiu Jitsu class an effective warm up and stretching routine partnered with a healthy diet is the key to reducing injuries.