It’s that time of year again when sports are in full swing. Participating in some form of sport has physical and psychological benefits. Physical activity can increase coordination, improve self-esteem, and teach important lessons about teamwork and self-discipline.

Participating in sports can also result in injury if not careful. Whether you’re a parent, player, or coach, it’s important to be aware of sports safety tips to help keep everyone safe. Below are a few sports safety tips to keep in mind:

Warm Up. Warming up before playing gradually increases the heart rate and blood circulation. This helps loosen the joints and increase blood flow to the muscles. Warming up is also a great opportunity to prepare mentally for the game ahead and for a team to work together before the start of the game or practice.

Wear the proper equipment. The proper use of protective equipment is a crucial part of injury prevention in sports and should be worn regardless of whether it is a game, practice, or just fun. This includes things like a mouthguard, helmet, protective pads, etc.

Follow the rules of the game. Rules provide an agreement of understanding to competition. In sports, rules define what is allowed or not allowed to occur during situations on and off the court. Following the rules ensures that everyone is playing safely and ultimately reduces the risk of injury.

Listen to your body. Soreness and pain are not synonymous. One is the good kind of hurt, the other indicates harm. If your muscles feel sore, this is an indication that your muscles are growing. After a hard workout, they may be tight, heavy, or sensitive to the touch. If the discomfort continues for multiple days or pain can be pinpointed to a joint, bone, or tendon, you may be experiencing an injury. If this is the case, take a few days off and rest. If pain continues, you may need to visit an Orthopedic specialist.

Be aware of your surroundings. This means knowing where the other players are, being aware of obstacles on the field, and knowing the layout of the playing area. Knowing where things are located helps to avoid collisions and potential falls.

Drink plenty of water. Sweat lost during sports must be replaced with equal amounts of fluids each hour of intense sports activity. Water should be consumed before, during, and after each practice or game. To avoid stomach cramps from drinking large amounts of fluids at once, drink about 1 cup of water (or a type of sports drink) every 15 to 20 minutes.

When participating appropriately, sports can offer plenty of benefits and be a great way to stay physically active. If you’ve experienced a sports-related injury, give Santiam Orthopedic Group a call at 503-769-8470.