In case you haven’t heard, sports injuries are on the rise among athletes, especially in youth sports. From ACL tears to tendonitis, sports medicine doctors and physical therapists are seeing athletes more than ever for sports injuries. Although acute injuries are next to impossible to prevent – for example, injuries that happen from a fall or collision – overuse injuries can be prevented. Many times, overuse injuries are caused from poor training and not strengthening the right muscles. By focusing on strengthening the right areas through targeted prevention exercises, you can not only lower your risk of injury, but also improve your overall performance.
For Knee Pain: Side Crab Walk
Knee pain plagues many athletes – from runners to tennis players. Many times, there are weak muscles that need to be strengthened that support the knee. For the most part, those weak muscles can be found in the hip. Strengthening the hips and glutes will help curb knee pain and prevent further knee injury. The side crab walk is one of the best exercises for strengthening the hips and knees.
Standing with a resistance band around the feet, take a step to the side with knees. Continue in the same direction for 10 steps total, remaining in a squatted position the whole time. Reverse sides so that your other foot is leading.
Work up to 2-3 sets of 10 steps each side.
Form check: make sure you keep your abs in and tight and your hips rotated under so that you’re using your glutes. Retain resistance between your feet as you step.
For Back Pain: Planks
Whether you’re an athlete or not, chances are you’ve suffered from back pain, especially lower back pain. Most back pain can be avoided, however. Strengthening the core and hips, as well as stretching correctly can help ease this common problem.
Starting in a high push up position or in a low position on forearms, keep your body lifted with your glutes and abs contracted. Hold the position tightly for 20 seconds, working up to 1 minute or longer. Take a 20-second break and repeat twice more.
Form check: make sure your hips are neither sinking nor too high. Your body should be straight. Feet should be close together, with knees squeezing together.
For Shoulder Injuries: Standing Row
Shoulder injuries are common in baseball, tennis, golf, and swimming, among many other sports. Rotator tears, as well as tendinitis, can stop a player dead in the tracks, taking them out for the season or worse. However, with the right strengthening exercises, you can lower your risk for tears and overuse injuries in the shoulder. Exercises that target not only the rotator cuff but also such supporting muscles as deltoids, trapezius muscles, and even biceps and triceps can aid in prevention.
With a resistance band attached to something sturdy and immovable, stand far enough away that there is slight tension. With your arm in front of you, begin to pull your arm back as if you’re rowing. Keep your arm tight to your body as you squeeze your shoulders on the way back. Release slowly and controllably. Repeat 10 more times then switch sides.
Work up to 2-3 sets of 10 reps each arm.
Form check: make sure you keep your abs engaged and you don’t rotate your body as you pull your arm back. A slight bend in the knee will help you keep your form.
Prevention Exercises And Physical Therapy
These prevention exercises are a great starting point for avoiding injuries. However, physical therapists and athletic trainers can create an entire program that targets weak muscles and muscle imbalances that can leave you vulnerable to an injury. After an assessment, they can pick out weaknesses to target. By targeting these weaknesses, you not only decrease your risk of an injury, but you increase your chance of enhancing your performance.