13 Apr Injury Prevention- Part 1
So you want to know how can you actually prevent injuries from happening? Well first let me explain why injuries happen in the first place…
To connect the bones in a joint we have ligaments, cartilage, tendons, and muscles. Ligaments are tight bands that aim to restrict a certain movement of the joint eg. in the knee the MCL prevents valgus (sideways) force and the ACL prevents anterior translation of the tibia on the femur (or basically the bottom of your leg sliding forward too far). These are important for when you are playing sports or doing activities that require changing direction and therefore injuries to ligaments occur when the ligament is under an excessive load, such as an intense twisting action and quite often you can hear a popping noise if damaged.
Cartilage lines the ends of the bones. It helps facilitate the bones gliding over one another and acts as a shock absorber. In the knee, for example, you have specially shaped cartilage called meniscus and in the hip, it can be referred to as labrum. Injuries to cartilage are often caused when one part of the joint is fixed and the other is twisted, for example, if your foot stays planted when you change direction. It is often damaged in conjunction with a ligament.
Muscles are tissues that contract to produce movement and they are connected to the joints by tendons, which are more fibrous/less contractile tissue. They both play a more dynamic role in stabilising joints and can become strained or torn when some or all of the fibers fail to cope with the demands being placed on them. In particular, muscles that are biarthrodial, meaning they span over two joints for example your hamstring muscles (knee/hip) or your calf muscles (knee/ankle), are more vulnerable to injury. A muscle is most likely to tear during a sudden acceleration or deceleration action, for example, sprinting or kicking.
During an activity, your brain coordinates your joints to perform a desired task. So when you are performing a task, your joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons are put under a certain amount of load to perform the task. If you increase this load too quickly or are performing the task over and over with incorrect technique or using the wrong type of equipment or too heavy weights, you are putting these tissues at high risk of not coping with the demands and resulting in an injury.
So firstly, the most important aspect of injury prevention is conditioning and technique. Training your body to gradually accept load and teaching your brain the best way to move your joints to maximise the ability of the joints, tendons, and muscles is pivotal. But what about accidents that happen that are out of your control? Like being taken out by a snowboarder or tackled a certain way. Check out Injury Prevention Part 2 and I will explain further…
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