Sports are unpredictable. Anything can happen on the field, including injuries. And although sometimes athletes get hurt through something totally unforeseen, a number of injuries are rooted in a list of common culprits.
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A list of circumstances that can cause a sports injury includes (but is not limited to):
- Muscle imbalances
- Weakened muscles, bones, tendons, or ligaments
- Previous injury
- Increase in activity or mileage
- Change in playing surface
- Hormone levels (females)
- Change in or poor equipment
- Change in climate
- Poor mechanics
- Lack of nutrients
- Functional discrepancies
- Structural discrepancies
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No one training routine can account for or prevent all of these circumstances from occurring; but athletes can take a number of simple steps to reduce common injuries in sports. Getting proper rest, eating appropriate foods, and taking in adequate hydration are at the forefront. They form the baseline of injury prevention, the fundamental things athletes should do to ensure that their bodies work properly.
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The next level of prevention includes strengthening muscles, performing proprioceptive exercises (moves that challenge your balance and improve your body's awareness of how it moves through space), and increasing overall activity levels at a gradual clip. These three factors will help athletes' musculoskeletal systems handle the demands of sports.
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Finally, working with a great coach and athletic trainer can help athletes stay ahead of chronic injuries and improve their chances of avoiding an acute injury.
Employing all of these prevention techniques, athletes can reduce their susceptibility to injury and continue to play at a high level in their sport.