With the London Olympics inspiring many people to try new sports, Sports Medicine Australia, Australia's peak sports medicine body, advises that preparation is needed before starting.
Sports Medicine Australia has developed a range of sport specific fact sheets, spanning Olympic sports such as running, basketball, football, gymnastics, hockey, softball, tennis and volleyball, to inform sports participants how to prepare their bodies for their chosen sport – to get the most from their game and most importantly avoid injury.
During August 2004, the month in which the Athens Olympics were held, statistics have shown that emergency department presentations and hospital admissions increased by 16% and 36% respectively when compared to the same period in 2003*.
Physiotherapist and Sports Medicine Australia spokesperson, Mark Brown says sport novices should not rush into a new sporting routine. Starting slowly is an important part of injury prevention.
"The Olympics often inspires a person to take up sport, most likely an activity that is new to them or one that hasn't been undertaken for some time. Many people however, start this new activity without being properly prepared. Sadly, this is a recipe for injury," said Mr Brown.
"Those starting out should always start slowly and progress gradually. By doing too much too soon injuries are more likely to occur.
"Before beginning sport, participants should learn and practise the correct skills for the sport being played and be aware of the rules of the game. Sport participants should also undertake training prior to playing competitively to ensure readiness to play," said Mr Brown.
To further reduce injury risks, Sports Medicine Australia recommends:
- Avoid playing with a pre-existing illness or injury. If in doubt, consult a health professional.
- Always use warm up and cool down activities appropriate for your sport.
- Maintain an adequate fitness level. Undertake conditioning and training exercises specific to the physical demands of your chosen sport.
- Gradually increase the intensity and duration of training.
- Cut down if you experience pain. Pain is a sign that the body is not adapting to the exercise load.
- Seek instruction from a qualified coach to develop correct skills and techniques.
- Wear the right protective equipment for the sport being played. Seek professional advice about the most appropriate shoes to wear for your sport.
- Drink water before, during and after activity. To avoid dehydration drink at least 500ml (2 cups) an hour before exercise, at least 150ml every 15 minutes during exercise and enough to ensure you are fully re-hydrated after exercise.
"By following these tips your risk of injury will be decreased, to help you keep enjoying your new found sport," said Mr Brown.
To download Sports Medicine Australia's range of sport safety fact sheets visit the resource section on the Smartplay website.
*Statistics from Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit, Monash University Accident Research Centre, sports related injury by month, hospital admissions and emergency department presentations, 2003-2005