Taking proper precautions when getting into summer sports season
Thursday, August 4, 2022
by: Toronto Sun

Section: Member News

Football players carrying an injured teammate off the field during a practice session in the late afternoon.
Football players carrying an injured teammate off the field during a practice session in the late afternoon. PHOTO BY FLAMINGOIMAGES /Getty Images

Canadians must be listening – there’s been a surge in summer sports Google searches for those looking to get into shape for hot weather activities.


That’s the good news.

The bad news is this is also leading to increased risk in injuries for many who are enthusiastic about diving headfirst into getting fit, but causing both minor and major injuries by doing things all wrong.

So say the folks at Claims.co.uk, a U.K.-based insurance company that has been investigating athletic injuries based on popular contact sports. The company recently examined data from various common sports popular to many fitness enthusiasts and – in a nutshell – it’s dangerous out there! That is, if you don’t do things correctly.

Young people tend to pay the painful price when it comes to sports injuries.

According to Statistics Canada, 35% of injuries occurred during participation in some type of sports or exercise, with two–thirds of injuries among young people aged 12 to 19 related to sports. “This was more than twice as high as working-age adults, and about seven times higher than seniors,” noted the Stats Can website.

(The latest stats from 2019-2020 show Quebec had the highest number of hospitalizations due to sports injuries, followed by Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and New Brunswick.)

“Sports injuries generally occur for two different reasons: trauma and overuse,” says Dr. Andrew Cosgarea, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine expert, on the hopkinsmedicine.org website.

“And while traumatic sports injuries are usually obvious, dramatic scenes, like when we see a player fall down clutching their knee, overuse injuries are actually more common,” adds Cosgarea, who is also the head team physician for the university’s department of athletics.

Here’s the thing – exercise is always good for the body and soul, provided you do things correctly. “With the proper precautions, sports injuries can often be prevented,” say the medical experts from Hopkins Medicine, advising the first place to start before embarking on any physical activity, especially a new one, is with your healthcare provider, especially for those interested in vigorous types of exercises or sports.

The insurance firm revealed that contact sports counted as the most dangerous of physical activities, with American football causing the highest injuries on knees. In fact, knee injuries are the most common in sports, accounting for 18.08% of the total injuries, followed by ankle, shoulder, hamstring, and back. Concussions were at the bottom of the list, along with groin injuries. It should be noted these are injuries reported among athletes in American football, basketball, and soccer.

Baseball took a toll on people’s elbows while basketball really put the wear and tear into knees. Hockey, meanwhile, pummeled a player’s lower body. Rugby, by comparison ruled in the concussion department.

But if there’s an overall sport you really need to take proper precautions with, it’s “American football, (the) most dangerous contact sport of all studied,” added Claims.co.uk.

Getting fit through physical activities is a no-brainer – just be proactive in your approach, get some decent advice, check with your health care provider, wear the proper gear – especially footwear – and don’t forget to have fun.

Ready, set – get fit

Joe Dale once served as a Royal Marines commando before entering the field of sports safety. Today, he’s a sports expert and founder of VPS Medicine in the U.K. “You only get one body – make the most of it,” says Dale, who offers the following tips on how to minimize the risk of sports injuries from outdoor activities:

Don’t skip the warm ups, STRETCH!

The vast majority of minor sports-related injuries I’ve encountered could be avoided with regular and sensible warm-up regimes! This should involve dynamic stretching, which will allow the joints to become lubricated, as well as allow the tendon, muscle and ligament around the joints to get used to being stretched.

Strengthen the right muscles

Spraining the ankle ligaments and hamstrings are both very common sporting injuries, but can often be prevented by strengthening the appropriate muscles. Hence, it’s vital to spend some time in the gym strengthening the muscles that you’ll be using – the stronger your muscles are, the more easily they can protect the surrounding joint.

Build up slowly, know your limits

If you haven’t exercised for a long time, don’t be tempted to think that you can start at the level you did as a 16-year-old. Even if you’ve kept fit in other ways, each sport is unique in the way it uses the joints and muscles, so build up slowly and try taking it gently for the first couple of sessions to allow your body to adapt.

Don’t forget to warm down

After completing any sporting activity, a warm-down is vital to help get rid of the waste products built up during exercise. Without a proper warm-down, the waste products such as lactic acid can linger in the muscles and lead to serious DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

And don’t forget the kids!

Playing sports is loads of fun, and it’s always good to instil a love of sports at a young age – but with the following precautions, courtesy Kids’ Health:

Wear protective gear, such as helmets, protective pads, and other gear.

  1. Warm up and cool down.
  2. Know the rules of the game.
  3. Watch out for others.
  4. Don’t play when you’re injured.
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