Don't pay the ultimate 'price' when it comes to sport injuries

  • Published
  • By 1st Lt. Cody Armstrong
  • 341st Missile Wing Safety
(Editor's Note: This story is part of a series from the 341st Missile Wing Safety office highlighting the Critical Days of Summer)

Whether you're getting ready for the big game or just heading out for an afternoon workout, it's important to keep sports preparation in mind to help prevent injury.

According to U.S. Air Force Safety Center, during the years 2009-2013, there were 2,468 sport injuries on-duty and 1,628 sports injuries off-duty. The Air Force spent more than $168 million treating these injuries.

In the U.S., more than 10,000 people receive treatment in emergency departments from sports, recreation and exercise injuries every year. Approximately 715,000 sports and recreation injuries occur each year in school settings alone. Preventing injury starts before lifting those 20-pound dumbbells at the gym and could make the difference in keeping everyone safe during the last few weeks of summer.

Take preventative measures to ensure the body is ready to handle the heavy stress before the sporting event or workout. Getting a good night's sleep is vital to mental and physical performance, and at least seven and a half hours of sleep is recommended for best results.

Eating a good meal with the proper nutrition to meet exercise goals is a must, as the body consumes these resources during activity. For heavy cardiovascular exercise try eating a meal with carbohydrates, such as pasta dishes. Ensure to drink plenty of water during activity to maintain proper hydration.

Following these additional tips can also help prevent injuries:

· Exercise Regularly
· Drink plenty of water (avoid sports drinks and supplements)
· Progress gradually
· Always warm up/cool down
· Wear the right protective equipment
· Use the proper technique
· Play safe -- follow the rules
· Stop the activity if there is pain
· Be prepared for the activity
· Know when to rest or stop
· Gradually increase time and intensity
· Listen to your body

There are other precautions one can take to prevent injury and increase performance. According to recent exercise physiology research, static stretching isn't recommended prior to warming up muscles. Instead, try doing a dynamic warm up to prepare the body for physical activity. Some dynamic stretches include simple movements like arm circles and hip rotations, and flowing movements such as yoga, walking or jogging. Although, don't leave traditional stretching out entirely. Stretching at the end of the activity helps decrease soreness and ease muscle tension.

Being prepared if an injury or emergency does arise is just as important as prevention. Even if everything has been done correctly, sometimes accidents happen. If a serious or life-threatening injury occurs, dial 911 or report to the nearest emergency room immediately. For minor injuries, remember PRICE: Protect (from further injury), Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. These steps will help a minor injury heal faster and prevent further injury.

Preventing sports injuries starts long before a workout and ends long after. With the right planning and preparation, everyone can have fun and stay safe the rest of the summer.