Game Shape

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The best way to fight sports injuries is to avoid them entirely. Here are tips to help you keep and stay in game shape without spending time on the sidelines.

    1. Sprint-based sports like baseball and basketball are the cause of a lot of lower-body muscle strains. The fix: stop-and-start drills.  If you train your body to do something that’s specific to your sport, then that training should take you through a full season. Here is an effective drill: Run 40 yards at about 70 percent of your maximum effort, slow to a jog for 10 yards, then pick it up again for another 40 yards. Repeat four or five times. You’ll be conditioned to sprint to first base, slow down, and charge for second, or run out for a pass.
    2. Seventy percent of ACL injuries occur when players are pivoting or landing awkwardly after a jump. Hitting the ground with your knees bent instead of nearly straight greatly reduces the risk.  Practice Jumping and landing with bent knees.
    3. Heatstroke harms many athletes. If the temperature and relative humidity combined equal 160, stay cool and hydrated, If the number tops 180, exercise indoors.
    4. Replace old equipment. Stressing joints that are out of alignment, also referred to as overuse, is a major cause of sports injuries. Even a bike or racket that’s not properly sized for you can cause improper movement patterns that cause overuse injuries. The extra hundred bucks you spend at the pro shop can save you time and money at the orthopedic doctor’s office.
    5. tennisIf your technique isn’t right, you’re just an injury waiting to happen. That’s why you need to seek advice from a pro. You’re only as good as the advice you get.
    6. Seventy-five percent of muscle mass is made up of fluid. If you don’t drink enough, you are at a higher risk for strains, sprains, and pulled muscles.
    7. Omega-3 fatty acids fight inflammation just like aspirin. (2 great sources are walnuts and salmon) That means less pain, more gains.
    8. Leafy green vegetables and citrus fruit boost your blood’s alkaline levels, which helps heal wounds faster. They’ll also make your blood less acidic, which cuts inflammation.
    9. Collagen is abundant in your connective tissues, tendons, bones, and muscles. Vitamin C is a key component of your body’s collagen recipe. So make sure you get enough in your diet or supplement.
    10. Injured athletes typically consumed 25 to 40 percent less calcium than their uninjured counterparts.
    11. Glutathione, an antioxidant, protects your body in many ways, and whey powder helps you make more of it. Whey is also the most readily absorbed source of branched-chain amino acids.  Think of it as a muscle-repair kits.
    12. Chug a Coke (or antioxidant-packed iced tea).  I know it goes against all I believe but a recent study revealed cyclists who downed 10 milligrams of caffeine per kilogram of body weight before a 30-minute ride had significantly less thigh pain than those who took a placebo.
    13. baseballIf your sport is multidirectional, your warm-up should be, too.  If your groin, back, and leg muscles aren’t ready, you’ll pull up in pain. Before the game, run backward, forward, sideways, and in quick combos of all directions.
    14. Videotape yourself because the camera knows and sees all.  But be sure there is a knowledgeable person to help interpret your tape, which is where that coach or pro comes in.
    15. Loosen your shoulders. An injured rotator cuff can shut down a shoulder. You should add external- and internal-rotation stretching to protect your cuffs. External: Stand with your right arm straight out to the side and parallel to the floor. Bend your elbow so your arm forms a right angle and your forearm points straight up. Keeping your elbow in place, move your hand back until you feel slight tension in your shoulder. Internal: Same as above, except that your forearm should point straight down toward the floor at the start. Hold each stretch for 30 seconds. And your a rubber band to add some resistance.
    16. When you wear a custom-fitted mouth guard you reduce your risk of dental injuries by 82 percent. Lay out the money for a custom-fitted guard and it’ll last for years. So will your smile.
    17. hockeyBuy running shoes and foot wear after work. Shop at night, when your feet are swollen after a day of pounding.  It approximates how big your feet will be after the first 3 miles of your run.
    18. Exercise off road. Unstable surfaces train stable ankles.
    19. Beat the heat. Run early in the day. Temperatures are lower, and so is the humidity.
    20. Control Inflammation. Supplement: Bromelain Daily amount: 120 milligrams (mg).  It’s almost like putting a cold pack on a bruise or sprain. Extremely safe and inexpensive, bromelain has been shown to reduce swelling, bruising, healing time, and pain following physical injuries. Studies have also found that it relieves mild knee pain as well.
    21. Shore Up Weak Tissue with Glucosamine sulfate Daily amount: 1,500 mg. Think of it as adding cement to a creaky foundation. Glucosamine creates polymers called glucosaminal glycans (GAG) that build and strengthen your tissues, preventing tears. Try pairing it with chondroitin, which promotes GAG formation and inhibits degradation enzymes in connective tissue.
    22. When athletes train and compete, there’s a whole lot of cellular combustion taking place.  That combustion has by-products, and if you’re not taking care of those by-products, they can be harmful over time, and could even lead to a higher tendency toward cancer. Antioxidants from green tea can manage your body’s oxidative stress. Supplement: Green-tea extract Daily amount: Up to 800 mg
    23. Methylation—a chemical process that helps your body build connective tissue—is important in muscle recovery, inflammation control, and muscle support and stability. If you take NSAIDs (e.g., aspirin and ibuprofen), all they do is block post workout inflammation. Pop SAM-e instead; it fuels methylation to provide benefits beyond the effect of NSAIDs. Daily amount: Work up to 1,200 mg
    24. It doesn’t matter whether you’re biking, paddling, or skiing—take a dry run down any route first.  A lot of people get injured because they just don’t know what they’re getting into.  If you feel you can’t control yourself down the course, then walk away.
    25. footballCrash landings require stuntman like instincts. You want to be as aerodynamic as possible when you hit, so just go with the fall and let your body roll through the impact.
    26. Performance anxiety narrows your peripheral vision by as much as 3 degrees and slows reaction time by 119 milliseconds.  When the going gets tough, the tough rely on the skills they’ve practiced. It helps keep you cool under pressure, widening your range of vision so you can react within milliseconds.
    27. Use a light grip. Most wrist and elbow injuries occur because people are using a tight grip. To get the feel, swing two clubs or bats at once—it can’t be done with a tight grip.
    28. Extra sodium helps you retain water and stay hydrated while exercising in high temperatures. But stay away from salt pills—they may do more harm to your blood pressure than good for your race.
    29. Smokers are nearly 50 percent more likely to suffer fractures, sprains, and other injuries. Smoking may also interfere with wound healing and muscle repair.
    30. Check the ozone levels. When you hear the words “ozone alert day,” move your workout indoors. People who exercise in high ozone conditions are three times more likely to develop asthma than those who skip workouts on those days.
    31. Don’t run in wet shoes. Soggy insoles have 40 to 50 percent less shock-absorbing capability than dry sneakers.  But don’t toss your shoes in the dryer; heat can degrade cushioning and support components.
    32. Know how to fall. When you fall, let your butt and back share the impact with your forearms. And wear wrist guards; they may not look sexy, but neither will a cast and sling.
    33. Ankle tape loosens after 10 minutes of play.  If you wear an ankle brace for example you may return to full participation after an injury 2 days sooner than those who were taped, and keep the brace on for at least 6 months. Most foot and ankle injuries are caused by incomplete healing of prior hurts.
    34. A brace isn’t a cure. Athletes who wore ankle braces were 61 percent more likely to be injured. If you brace a bum leg or arm it’s still bum. Before you play hard, heal first.
    35. Balance your muscles. Your dominant side tends to be stronger, leading to muscular imbalances, which can result in injuries. Lift with dumbbells, which isolate each side and balances weaknesses.
    36. Men work their chest and biceps, and forget that their shoulders are a balancing joint that needs strong muscles on both sides. That makes your shoulders more susceptible to muscle strains. For every set of chest presses you do, perform a set for shoulders as well.
    37. 36% of lightning deaths occur during recreational activities.
    38. Take care of your eyes.  Eye injuries are on the rise.  Basketball and hockey are responsible for the most eye injuries, and more and more safety equipment is being made available.
    39. Unplug your iPod. You need to process what’s ahead of you so you have time to avoid danger.
    40. Obey the 15-minute rule after a hit to your head. If you’ve seen stars  you’re out of the game. You’ll need 10 to 14 days to recover and avoid any activity that’s likely to jar your head. A concussion can cloud your judgment and therefore your skills for up to 21 days after the original hit.
    41. A recent study found that 47 percent of high-school and college male athletes involved in contact sports do not wear any kind of genital protection. What are they thinking? Great scene in the movie gridiron gang featuring ‘The ROCK’.
    42. Inhaling freezing air can inflame your airways, which may lead to asthma attacks.  In icy weather, consider wearing a device that uses your body heat to warm the air you breathe before it enters your body.
    43. Become a multisport warrior.  Excessive repetition of motion increases your risk of developing arthritis.  Nobody’s asking you to quit your favorite sport. But if you want to last at it, bring similar sports into the mix. You want to cross-train your muscles.  Natural pairings: skiing and soccer, swimming and martial arts, running and cycling, tennis and hoops.
    44. Train your brain to heal your ankle. Training sensory receptors in your ankles can help prevent recurrent injury. Using a wobble board strengthens what are called  “proprioception”: the subconscious bond between your nerves and the muscles that do your brain’s bidding. Try standing on the board for 5 minutes a day while you’re reading. When that becomes easy, balance with your eyes closed
    45. Train your brain to stay upright. Here’s another good reason to invest in a wobble board. It helps you work on maintaining your sense of balance and keeping your center of gravity. Simply standing on the board is great practice for sports in which balance is key: skiing, trail running, surfing, golf.
    46. Super powered infections like MRSA are tough to treat with antibiotics, but the wounds they enter through are. Clean all cuts thoroughly with soap and water, apply an antibiotic ointment such as Neosporin, and then keep them covered and dry.
    47. Keep a 15-degree bend in your elbow when going for a block or a dunk. Overextending your arm makes you prone to injuries.
    48. Try to Juggle. Hand-eye coordination means fast reactions, fewer wrenching motions.
    49. When you land after a jump, make sure it’s toes first, then heel. If you land either flat-footed or on your heels, you’ll be putting a lot of stress on your Achilles tendons and may cause your knees to hyperextend.
    50. Researchers found that athletes with high levels of stress off the field are five times more likely to experience an injury than even-keeled people. Take your dog on a run with you. Pets can help soothe stress.
    51. Show up early for your game.  Most amateurs just show up late and rush into the game.  By gradually warming up, you’ll guard against injuries.
    52. Check the lengths of your legs. Researchers discovered that 83 percent of those who experienced multiple fractures (that’s several breaks that occur over time, not three at once) had different leg lengths. If you have pain in your hip, knee, or ankle, ask your doctor for a leg measurement during your annual physical. Some discrepancies can be solved with corrective insoles; many simply require strengthening hip flexors or loosening tight hamstrings.
    53. runnerCheck your water losses. Weigh yourself before and after a long workout in hot weather. If you’ve lost more than 3 pounds by the time you’re finished, you’re dehydrated and could be at risk of heatstroke. Invest in a water pack so you can easily sip throughout your workout.
    54. Eliminate fungus. Nail fungus is a serious and sport stopping consequence of running. Sweaty socks are breeding grounds for fungi.
    55. Own the shoe that matches your game. Play tennis in tennis shoes. Unlike running shoes, which are made with an angled bottom to promote linear movement, tennis-shoe soles are flat, for optimal side-to-side motion.
    56. To strengthen muscle, lengthen it. Muscles that are strengthened as they lengthen can absorb more force, and this means less potential for tendon trouble. It’s called eccentric training. Here’s an ideal move for runners: In a calf raise, lift for 2 seconds, then spend 10 seconds lowering the weight.  The tissue is lengthening as it’s contracting, and that trains it for force absorption and greater strength.
    57. Wearing knee pads in contact sports may reduce the rate of lower-extremity injuries by 67 percent.

Stretch after sustained activity. That’s when blood flow is higher in your muscles, which helps them benefit more from the stretch.

  • Choose a league appropriate to your skill level.  Injuries tend to happen when things get out of control, you’ll be a big fish swimming in a small pond.
  • Squat, lunge, and step up. You’ll reduce back and hamstring injuries by strengthening your glutes, or butt muscles. Weak glutes force your hamstrings and lower back to compensate. And because your hamstrings and back muscles are so long and produce so much force, they can bend your torso back like a plastic spoon.
  • Spend time relaxing before you exercise at altitude. Your exercising heart rate naturally adapts to high altitude, but you have to give it time. Training—or even sleeping—at high altitude accelerates this process. You’re also going to have a higher respiratory rate and lose more moisture,  So drink extra water, especially before and during hikes.
  • A loss of body water can decrease performance by more than 20 percent.  Water’s not enough for exercise lasting over an hour.  Your body also loses salt, so you need a sports drink containing carbohydrates and electrolytes. Drink even more during games.  If you’re wearing a uniform, shin guards, and face mask, your body can’t dissipate heat as well as when you train in the gym in a T-shirt and shorts.
  •  Keep drinking. Another time to drink more is when you travel to a warmer climate for a race. It takes 7 to 10 days for your core temperature to acclimate from cold to hot-and-humid conditions. Compensate with a water bottle in hand.


I know you want to get in shape and look great.  Whatever your fitness goal…to slim down…gain muscle…tone your arms or flatten your tummy…I’m here to help you accomplish your goals and to improve your fitness level. If you have enjoyed this article and the many other free features on my site, and would like some more comprehensive information such as fitness books and CD’s to aid you in achieving your health and fitness goals, please visit my ONLINE STOREwhere you will find innovative natural health and beauty products to help you become the BEST YOU CAN BE !