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Avoid Sports Injuries with These 5 Tips

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Sports are one of the number one causes for bursitis and other muscle and joint injuries. Many of these injuries occur in "weekend warriors" who exercise more on the weekends and over exert themselves. Avoid sports injuries and bursitis with these 5 tips.

If you are a professional athlete, gym rat, or even someone who likes to move on the weekends; you have to deal with sports injuries on a regular basis. Injuries occur when the muscles are pushed too hard or if something goes wrong during exercise.

Common sports injuries usually don’t take long to heal, because they are simply caused by inflammation in the knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, or another joint area.

Joint injuries from sports and exercise are common and are usually caused by repetitive motion. Find out how to prevent these injuries from occurring so you can prevent time-wasting downtime below.

The Most Common Joint Injury

Joint injuries are some of the most common in sports and fitness because a lot of stress is placed on the joints. The joint areas are often weaker than other muscles in the body because only a few ligaments and muscles keep the joints in place.

A sudden turn or repetitive motion can jar the joint and cause it to move out of alignment. Excess fluid can quickly fill up around the joints, causing swelling and pain. When this occurs, it is known as bursitis, because the bursa sac cushioning the joints starts to swell. Most cases of bursitis are temporary and easy to treat. A four-step process is the best way to treat bursitis:

4 Steps to Treat Bursitis

Rest: Suspend your exercise until the pain and swelling subside. You can keep doing exercises as long as they use other muscles. Try to keep weight and stress off the area until the pain is gone.

Ice: Apply ice to the pained area for 20 minutes at a time. You can do this up to 8 times a day. Avoid the use of heat, as this could make swelling worse. Heat is an effective treatment for muscle pain, but will not heal bursitis.

Compress: Try wrapping the injured joint with elastic wraps, splints, bandages, or air casts. This can help remove excess swelling and control joint movement so the swelling has time to go down without placing strain on the area.

Elevate: Try raising the joint above normal levels. This can help remove excess fluid from the area, will help relieve pain, and reduce swelling. Raise the joint above your heart for maximum effectiveness.

Prevent Sports Bursitis

Can you prevent bursitis caused by sports and exercise? Although it may be impossible to prevent all cases of bursitis if you continue to repeat the same motions over and over, you can reduce your chances of seeing this painful condition by employing the 5 tricks outlined below.

Stretch and Flex

Stretching and flexing are key to avoiding bursitis injuries and other injuries. Warm-up before any exercise or sport by slowly going through the motions you will use during the exercise or sport. Always use proper form when doing the sport or exercise.

Flex your knees to the 90-degree position, but no further when doing exercises. Roll your shoulders through their full range of motion before lifting weights. Reach your hand back and try to touch your shoulder blade from the back, then reach around and try to touch the same shoulder blade from the front. Repeat on both sides. This can help strengthen the shoulders and also prepare the muscles for use.

After exercising, gently stretch the muscles to prevent cramps and sudden injuries from tightening. Sometimes a muscle will feel fine until a few hours later- stretching after the exercise can prevent late-onset pain from muscles and bursitis.

You should also take care not to overdo activities or exercises. If you do not normally do an activity, it is best to take it slow. You only increase your chances of bursitis and injuries if you jump in with full speed and aggressiveness in a sport or exercise that is new to you (or that you only do occasionally).

Strengthen Your Rotator Cuff

Your rotator cuff is one of the main preventive muscles in the body that can prevent bursitis and other shoulder injuries. The rotator cuff is the muscles that surround the shoulder and joins the shoulder to the body. Adding in a few exercises that work the rotator cuff during your normal exercise routine will help increase the flexibility and strength of your arms and shoulders. Simple rotator cuff exercises involve simply rotating your shoulder joints while lifting a medium weight and bringing the arms in and out from the body. Push-ups also strengthen the rotator cuff.

Strengthen the Knees

Knees are also a common area to see bursitis. Knee joints are easy to injure when performing exercises like squats and lunges. The key to preventing these injuries is to watch your form during exercise. Knees should always be positioned over the ankles in straight alignment. Always keep your knees bent when performing exercises and never lock them. Land with your knees bent after jumping.

There are also two exercises that strengthen the knee joint and prevent future injuries. Roll up a bath towel and place it under your knee as you sit on the floor with one leg stretched out. Gently tighten your leg muscles as you slowly bring your knee closer to the floor. Hold for 10 seconds, and then repeat about 5 times on each leg.

For the second exercise, lie flat on your back with both legs extended. Slowly pull one knee up with your foot flat on the floor. Lower the knee slowly back to the ground. Repeat 20 times per leg, unless your knee starts to hurt.

Use the Right Equipment

The right equipment can make the difference between injuries and safe practice. Never use weights that are too heavy for your capabilities. Always make sure you have the right shoes, equipment, and tools for your sport or exercise. The wrong equipment can quickly turn a fun sport into a dangerous activity for your health.

Eat for Reduced Inflammation

Some evidence suggests that the consumption of inflammatory foods leads to an increased risk of bursitis pain during sports and exercise. You can control inflammation levels through diet and with the right supplements.

Inflammatory Foods
  • Omega 6 fats
  • Sugar
  • Processed grains
  • Chemical additives

The following supplements have been scientifically proven to control inflammation and control swelling caused by bursitis:

Curcumin and Ginger: Curcumin and ginger are relatives, which means they have the same anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin and ginger can reduce swelling, inflammation, and joint pain. Studies have shown they are highly effective at reducing inflammation in arthritis patients and in many other chronic inflammatory conditions.

Indian frankincense: Indian frankincense has been shown to reduce inflammation in arthritis patients in studies conducted in India. Frankincense may be particularly effective for stopping knee swelling and pain.

Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM): Web MD states that MSM is a highly effective chemical that is used to relieve inflammation in arthritis, bursitis, muscles, the eyes, the brain, and everywhere else in the body.

Willow Bark: Studies have shown that willow bark is effective at relieving inflammatory conditions like arthritis, migraines, and low back pain. Although no formal studies exist on willow bark for bursitis, many health professionals believe it could also benefit this condition.

Other Simple Prevention Tips

In addition to the above tips, the following tips will help you prevent bursitis from sports, exercising, and other activities:

  • Take frequent breaks from repetitive activities. After 20 repetitions or so, take a break for a couple of minutes before starting again.
  • Don’t perform the same exercises day after day-rather, mix it up and have fun.
  • Don’t grip tools or sports equipment tightly. This can lead to elbow bursitis.
  • Use a forearm band when involved with sports like tennis. Foam-covered handles can help you hold your equipment without having to grip it so hard.
  • Protect your knees by kneeling on a knee pad when you have to use them for extended periods.
  • Do not lift heavy objects using the hips or back. Bend from the knees and push up from the ground with a straight back.
  • When possible, carry heavy loads on a cart or dolly.
  • Try exercising using a circuit method. Do a few exercises for several minutes, then switch to a new form of exercise.

You may find it helpful to switch exercise methods from day to day. For example, try running on one day, doing weights on another day, swimming on the third day, and doing yoga or another bodyweight workout on the fourth day. Ask a professional to show you the best way to perform each sport or exercise task. You may be surprised at what you are doing wrong that could lead to injuries like bursitis.

Stop Sports Injuries Before They Happen

The best way to prevent injuries during sports and exercise is to do the exercises the right way, don’t overdo them, take care of your joints, and avoid repetitive motions that could lead to joint injuries like bursitis. Additionally, eating foods that fight inflammation while supplementing with anti-inflammatory herbs can help prevent bursitis from popping up even if you engage in repetitive exercises. It doesn’t take a lot to protect against sport and exercise injuries, but if you do not you will regret it. It takes much longer to recover from an injury than it does to prevent one.





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