Our society for the most part lives for the exhilaration of endorphins that we release as we strive for the goal line of victory. We simply love winning. Our addiction will often be the force that drives us to the next challenge. We know that our win is never based on “good luck” but our preparations meeting opportunities for victory. But as with all athletics there is also an inherent risk of injuries not based on “bad luck” but other unfortunate circumstances.
If A Sports Injury Happens
At the time of injury most often we are upset with ourselves, the circumstances and want answers to our questions:
- When can I start exercising again?
- When can I get back to my sport?
- What can I do to prevent this from happening again?
The answers to these questions are relatively straightforward. But for some, injuries continue to happen. Which leads us to our next key question:
- Why does this keep happening to me?
This question is the hardest to answer. Some athlete’s injuries may occur even when they are doing the things that they are supposed to be doing. Although challenging, it is imperative to continue to try to discover the underlying causes to better prepare and build strength for the next opportunities for greatness.
If we dig deeper, we’ll find that there are three primary sources of training injuries: (1) under-preparation, (2) over-training, and (3) lack of focus.
Training sounds pretty simple on paper. Just eat right, sleep well, and lift a little bit more weight every workout. But every workout takes place in real life, and real life can make training pretty hard. Optimal training only occurs when daily life doesn’t get in the way.
Training like an athlete while working a full-time job or going to school is not easy, but fixing weak points in your habits and lifestyle can help avoid training setbacks and plateaus.
The first training injury most often experienced is under-preparation. Under-preparation means doing things you’re not ready to do. For example, people who have never done aerobic exercise go out and try to run five miles, or people who have never done strength training go to the gym and try to lift weights that are too heavy. These exercise patterns can be dangerous, physically, and may directly lead to injury.
Remember a 16-year-old teenager has some leeway and can get away with making a variety of training errors. This leeway may even be true for those who are in their mid-20s, but persons who are older need to train on a trajectory. Sound principles include starting slowly, starting with the basics, and making sure to include rest days in your training program. Build up your strength and stamina. Doing more than you are ready for will send you straight to your chiropractor’s office or even to the hospital.
Remember exercise can cause muscle and joint pain. The severity of the soreness and how long it takes to recover depends on diet and lifestyle, as well as the kind of exercises performed.
Could I Be Over-Training?
The second most often cause for injury is over-training.
Over-training means doing too much. Most of us are guilty of this. For example, you love to run, you build up your weekly mileage to a good level, but then you keep piling on the distance. Then all of a sudden you’ve got a stress fracture in your leg or a severe strain of a calf muscle.
The key is to train smart and to be aware of the possibility of over-training. The temptation to do more is always there, but the result is never good. The short-term gratification is completely outweighed by the frustration and loss of conditioning resulting from injury-enforced down-time.
Clear the Mechanism
Many injuries happen during regular training because the person’s mind has wandered off from a life distraction or lethargy.
When people pay more attention to the TV or their incoming text messages than they do to the equipment they’re using or the weight they’re lifting, the result can be an injury, sometimes a bad one. In fact, you’re very unlikely to sustain an injury during normal training if you’re completely focused. Maintaining focus should be a central part of the discipline of training.
But what about lethargy and fatigue?
The occasional all-nighter won’t have a long-term effect on performance, but consistently poor sleep will. To ensure laser focus in mental acuity aim for six to ten hours of sleep every night and follow these guidelines for a healthy sleep environment:
A healthy sleep environment is:
- A slightly cool room tends to facilitate sleep.
- Turn off electronic devices. Smartphones and tablets just before bed will disrupt melatonin secretion, leading to a more difficult time falling asleep.
- Ears don’t close as eyes do. Even if you sleep through the night, loud noises can still impair sleep quality.
- Caffeine-free. Avoid any compounds that impair sleep and lower sleep quality.
- Where you sleep and how long you sleep for should be the same from night to night.
Ready to Learn More?
A big part of our sports performance and rehabilitation process is the acquisition of knowledge. In the realm of exercise and fitness, some personal knowledge of biomechanics can go a very long way toward preventing injuries.
Our expert team has been designed to help not only rehabilitate sports injuries through Chiropractic and other rehabilitative care but to help you learn more about human biomechanics and how to achieve your optimal physical performance.
For Your Health,
Dr. Scott Van Dam