Christina Chitwood and Mark Hanretty performing their free dance at British Nationals 2008
This is the second of a 5-part series on injury prevention for sports. Be sure to check out Part 1 – Injury Prevention for Sports: Warm-Up
Awareness is very important in sports. You should be aware of what muscles are being used and try to use as much energy as possible in your sport. If you are in a sport where you have to conserve energy, you’ll still be trying your hardest at all times when you are performing, and your muscles should not be relaxed.
When you’re performing a lot of movements in sports, they are often quick, explosive, and can be hard on the body. It helps to know how to protect your body for each movement pattern.
I’m not covering all the movement patterns that are used in sports, but here are some of the common actions that are used in a lot of sports:
Rotation: Rotational sports such as golf, baseball, or tennis can be strenuous on your back. To help protect your back, it is important to strengthen your core. Pilates is a great way to strengthen the core. Try to view the core as abdominal muscles, back muscles, and glutes. In Pilates, the core is often referred to as the powerhouse because all movements originate from the core.
Knee Bend: In sports that involve a lot of bending or knee bend, such as ice skating and skiing, it’s important to activate the muscles in your hips and legs. For sports with a lot of knee bend, activating the glutes is one of the most important ways to help support your knees. When the hamstrings or quadriceps are primarily used in a sport, this can lead to overuse and putting excess stress on the kneecap. Proper stretching is also important for protecting the knees.
Jumping: When you’re doing jumping movements, think about your landings, focusing on activating your glutes and absorbing shock by landing on the ball of the foot and then rolling through the whole foot. Also, you’ll often land with fairly straight knees and cushion the landing by bending your knees. It should be a continuous movement, and you should not have locked knees on landings.
Running: I’m not going to give tips for those of you who are in track, but for sports that involve running, there is less impact by running mostly on the balls of your feet. This can take some getting used to. This is also how you run if you use barefoot shoes.
Kicking or Punching: Kicking and punching are explosive movements, but it’s important not to jar your knees or elbows into a locked position. You can think about extending your leg on kicks by pushing through your heel. On punches, follow through using your chest and back muscles.
Any movement that you do a lot of in your sport is a repetitive movement. This can lead to overuse injuries, so think about your technique on movements that strain your body or that you do often. Sports coaches and personal trainers can be very helpful with giving you exercises and proper technique to help prevent injuries specific to your sport.
Join me for part 3 of Injury Prevention for Sports next week!
Photo Credit: Photo by David Paterson at photoreflect.com
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