May is recognized as National Physical Fitness and Sports month and is a great time to review the benefits of physical activity. Getting active provides many health advantages to people of all ages including children, adults and older adults. Regular physical activity is proven to provide the following benefits:

  • Adolescents and children – physical activity improves bone health, heart health and muscle fitness
  • Adults – physical activity reduces the chance of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and various types of cancer
  • Older adults – older adults that stay active improve cognitive skills and reduce their risk of falling

It is important for people of all ages to engage in physical activity while following safe practices to avoid strains, sprains and injury.  Encourage children to engage in physical activity every day and realize that it is never too late to begin a physical fitness regimen. Speak with your doctor for tips on the right activities for you and follow safe practices to avoid injury. Warming up before physical activity and cooling down towards the end is one thing you can do to reduce strain on your joints and muscles.

The Difference Between Acute and Chronic Sports Injuries

There are basically two types of sports injuries, acute and chronic. Being aware of the potential for injury and knowing how to prevent it is important to gain all the benefits of physical activity. Injuries that occur suddenly such as an ankle sprain would be considered an acute injury while chronic injuries occur from ongoing activity over a long period of time.

Tennis elbow and knee problems are examples of a chronic injury which is caused from repetitive motion. There are many things that you can do to prevent acute and chronic injuries during sports and physical activity. Knowing the symptoms will help you to recognize an injury to obtain the proper treatment.

Symptoms of Injuries from Sports and Physical Activity

Injuries from sports and physical activity will have varying symptoms depending on the type of injury.  Symptoms of an acute injury often include:

  • Severe pain coming on suddenly
  • Swelling and tenderness
  • Weakness in legs or arms
  • Inability to move joints normally
  • Inability to put weight on a foot, ankle, leg or knee
  • A bone or joint that is visibly out of place

Symptoms of chronic injuries which occur over a long period of time include:

  • Pain when doing the sport or activity
  • Continual tenderness or pain
  • Swelling
  • Constant ache or pain even while at rest

Common Treatment Methods for Sports Injuries

One of the most common treatment methods for sports injuries follows the R-I-C-E method which is:

R – Rest.  Rest the injured area and reduce the activity causing pain.

I – Ice.  Use a cold pack or an ice pack on the injured area in 20 minute intervals 4 to 8 times per day.

C – Compression.  Put pressure on the injured area to help reduce swelling.

E – Elevation.  Elevate the area injured above your heart to help reduce pain and swelling.

This is a common treatment plan that helps many sports injuries although more serious injuries require additional treatment.  Anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen will help to reduce swelling and pain. A serious injury will require additional treatment such as with physical therapy, medications, reduced mobility and possibly surgery.

Safe Practices to Prevent Sports Injuries

It is important to always be aware of sports injuries that can occur from your activity and practice safe habits to avoid them. Knowing what types of injuries can occur will help you to prevent them.  Follow these safe practices to enjoy the benefits of your physical activity without risk of injury:

  • Always stretch before your physical activity
  • Do warm-up exercises
  • Know what your limits are and don’t exceed them
  • Wear the right type of shoes to provide stability and absorb shock
  • Never run on concrete or asphalt, exercise on soft surfaces when available
  • Bend your knees more than halfway to prevent knee and back strain
  • When jumping, always land with your knees bent
  • Prevent repetitive strain and chronic injury by practicing proper ergonomics
  • Don’t jump into excessive activity like a weekend warrior

Now that spring is here and the days are longer with the weather is warmer, it’s tempting to get outside and jump straight into the physical activity we have been missing. Be sure to take the necessary time to stretch, warm up and pace yourself. Be smart about your physical limitations so that you can enjoy the many benefits that come with physical activity.

Greater Waterbury imaging Center encourages you to maintain physical activity that fits with your age and physical limitations. Be sure to practice safe habits during sports and physical fitness routines to prevent acute and chronic injury. Remember to contact us for all your MR imaging needs.