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Sports injuries and avoidance : How to train safely
What are the most common sports injuries?
The most common sports injuries affect the lower extremity. The 'typical' injuries vary significantly depending on the type of sport. Soccer players and climbers are injured differently in statistical terms. The variable movement patterns of the types of sport challenge and strain different parts of the body. It also makes a difference whether there are opponents and sports equipment. Weather conditions also play a role in outdoor sports.
In addition to abrasions and bruises, the top ten primarily include ligament injuries of the ankle and knee joints. Overstressing the tendons affects the entire body, again with a focus on the lower extremities.
Does the number and frequency of sports injuries differ between recreational and professional sports?
Statistically, the question can be answered at will. Comprehensive statistics on all disciplines in the leisure and professional sector do not exist because the data is nowhere completely recorded. If you look at the absolute number of injuries, then of course recreational sport dominates. This is due to the fact that we naturally have far more recreational athletes in terms of numbers. Professional athletes have - at least in some disciplines - more intensive medical care. Of course, this also has a positive preventive effect. Conversely, the intensity and intervals of exercise are higher in the professional area and overloads are very common.
What are the biggest risk factors in recreational sports?
- Lack of physical fitness
- Exaggerated ambition
- Insufficient regeneration
- Often more trust and focus on the equipment than on your own fitness
- Social media and exercise tips from questionable experts. There is great content on all social media. The challenge is to filter these.
Incidentally, a personal trainer is a good contact person for each of these points. He / she knows his / her own customer and can respond to him / her individually.
How does age affect the risk of getting injured?
Age affects the type of injury. As the strength of the bones decreases, fractures increase with age. Ligament injuries are comparatively more common in younger athletes. Training in perception and responsiveness as well as improving mobility are other important factors. Targeted training of these variables can compensate for increasing deficits with age and thus help to avoid sports injuries.
How does fitness status affect the risk of injury?
My counter-question is, what does "fitness status" mean?
Mobility, stability and good movement control reduce endogenous sports injuries. Regardless of the athlete's performance level, a good warm-up is important to reduce sports injuries. On the psychological level, a realistic self-assessment and general prudence play an important role. This applies in particular to your own sports equipment and the ambient conditions. A physically fit athlete who skis poorly, however, is likely to have an increased risk of injury on a black, icy slope in the fog compared to a less fit but experienced skier.
In summary, a high level of fitness is generally to be assessed positively, but alone does not protect against sports injuries.
How does lifestyle affect the risk of injury?
Our lifestyle is made up of a series of many small rituals. You decide about our energy level, about our regeneration and about our mindset. These are all important factors that affect our risk of injury. Our training habits also influence our risk. A personal trainer is in the ideal position to work with his client on his positive rituals and thus on his lifestyle.
As a recreational athlete, how can you avoid sports injuries regardless of equipment?
Safe 'avoidance' is not possible, but risk reduction is possible. We have established preventive measures in most medical fields. We go to the dentist, we have our moles checked by the family doctor, we should have our intestines checked regularly from the age of 50 and we regularly take our children to the prescribed "U-examinations".
What do we do preventively for our musculoskeletal system? No standard examination has been established here. For our cardiovascular system, a stress ECG is usually offered from the age of 35, but only a small proportion of the insured use this offer.
In our practice, we offer athletes and patients a movement analysis in order to identify relevant risks and then to be able to compensate for them with suitable exercises. Some personal trainers also offer a similar service. As with all preventive examinations, regularity is crucial.
Can you give us two examples of simple screening exercises?
Simple movement patterns are checked in my basic screen. This includes first of all standing upright against a wall. The heels, buttocks, shoulders and the back of the head must touch the wall. That sounds very simple, but a not inconsiderable number of athletes and patients have difficulties with it. Usually this is due to a stretch deficit in the thoracic spine. As a consequence, to stay with this example, exercises to improve mobility and stability should be carried out.
Another example is the one-legged stance. We should be able to stand securely on one leg for at least 10 seconds with our eyes open. I don't have to think about running or jumping exercises if standing on one leg is not safe.
It is very exciting that 3-5 minutes of relaxed breathing often improves the ability in both exercises. That is why another important pillar in screening is breathing testing.
If you can give three tips that a personal trainer can improve with their client without knowing the individual, what would you advise?
- Improve the mobility of the thoracic spine
- Improve the active mobility of the hip joint and train hip extension
- Improve mobility in the foot and ankle
Do you also offer trainers further training in the area of movement analysis and sports injuries?
Yes that's right. I have written the book "Return to Sport" and am giving a two-day course in Bonn through the ARTZT Institute. In addition to the live course, there is now also an online version, also via the ARTZT Institute.
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