Updated: Mar 30
By: William Sanders RD, LD, ACSM-CPT
No one likes injuries! Injuries can result acutely (example: bicycle wreck) or chronically (example: overuse injury from running frequently with poor form). Did you know there are some strategies you can take to minimize for risk of developing injuries? Following, are a few proactive measures you can take to prevent injuries and accelerate recovery from injuries:
Before an activity, a light warm up with or without stretching can make a major difference. Tight and inelastic muscles and tendons can impair performance and result in injury in high intensity sports (ex: teamsports); however, stretching and warm up exercises may not be required for lower intensity activities (ex: jogging) (Witvrouw, et al. 2004).
In addition to staying limber, strength training and conditioning can have profound effects on injury prevention (stronger bones and muscles). Athletes who undergo higher training loads beyond that experienced during their sport or activity express greater physical outputs and resilience during their activity (Gabbett, 2016). This extra conditioning also assists in building strong bones. Athletes should consume extra calcium, vitamin D, and protein in order to maximize their bone health and prevent fractures (McClung, 2005).
In terms of nutrient intake: the type of activity, amount of time spent active, and environmental conditions are major determinants of an athletes caloric, electrolyte, and fluid needs. Athletes who meet their calorie, hydration, and electrolyte needs throughout an activity perform at their best ability (Potgieter, 2013). Athletes who fail to meet their nutrient needs will have prolonged recovery periods and activity during this recovery period increases the likely hood of injury drastically (Medina, Lizzaraga, & Drobnic, 2014). For more on recovery, see my article Athletic Recovery, which discusses an overview of energy metabolism and nutritional strategies to optimize recovery.
Gabbett, T. J. (2016). The training—injury prevention paradox: Should athletes be training Smarterandharder? British Journal of Sports Medicine, 50(5), 273–280. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2015-095788
McClung, M. R. (2005). The relationship between bone mineral density and fracture risk. Current Osteoporosis Reports, 3(2), 57–63. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11914-005-0005-y
Medina, D., Lizzaraga , A., & Drobnic , F. (2014). INJURY PREVENTION AND NUTRITION IN FOOTBALL. Sports Science Exchange , 27, 1–5. Retrieved February 18, 2022, from https://secure.footprint.net/gatorade/stg/gssiweb/pdf/SSE132_Medina.pdf.
Potgieter, S. (2013). Sport nutrition: A review of the latest guidelines for exercise and sport nutrition from the American College of Sport Nutrition, the International Olympic Committee and the International Society for Sports Nutrition. South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 26(1), 6–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/16070658.2013.11734434
Witvrouw, E., Mahieu, N., Danneels, L., & McNair, P. (2004). Stretching and injury prevention. Sports Medicine, 34(7), 443–449. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200434070-00003