There are ideal ways to prep your body before the big game. Stretching isn’t one of them.
You’ve probably seen some athletes stretching their arms and legs before a match, but studies show that those exercises hardly do a thing. In fact, the rationale behind stretching to reduce likelihood of injuries isn’t well-understood. Plenty of muscles are incapable of being stretched, and forcing them could be detrimental to your body.
Former massage therapist Paul Ingraham lists four better ways to mitigate injuries during sports. None involves stretching—well, at least static stretching.
- Mobile Warm-up – This is often referred to as dynamic stretching, but it’s the type of stretching that has some benefit. Mobile warm-ups require a full range of dynamic movements like moving your arms and legs back and forth, instead of keeping them on a stretch position for far too long.
- Enough Rest – A 2012 study of middle and high school athletes found out that those who slept at least eight hours a day were 68 percent less prone to injuries. Rest helps relax worn-out muscles and repair any damage incurred. It also helps maintain cognitive balance.
- Don’t Push Yourself – Don’t push your body to the limit just to win a game. Don’t force yourself to run when you’re too tired. You can win a game by playing smart and avoiding overuse injuries, which can be more catastrophic than torn ACLs or broken tibias.
- Relax – Although purely psychological, the brain needs to be in working condition to prevent you from making harmful decisions. Whether or not you’re engaged in sports, don’t let the high-water marks of your life drive you crazy. Take a deep breath, think, and act.
Denver orthopedics practitioners, however, have one more item to add to the list. A visit to the orthopedic office can help create a specific recovery plan for any physical injury, so it’s best to do so the moment you get a sprain or torn ligament. You can trust orthopedic doctors’ years of expertise dealing with common injuries among amateur and pro athletes.
Don’t let any injury grow worse by playing on or leaving it alone. The consequences of doing so may put you out of the sport you love for good. Let a Denver sports medicine practice such as Steadman Hawkins Clinic Denver be part of your recovery strategy.
“Six Ways To Prevent Sports Injuries,” PainScience.com, September 9, 2014
“Does Stretching Prevent Injury in Exercise?” The Wall Street Journal, December 2, 2014