December 2019

9 Bad Habits That Can Put You at Risk for a Sports Injury

Nothing can ruin a sports season or a good exercise streak quite like a sports injury. Many sports injuries require taking some time off from your activity to recover. Break these 9 bad habits to prevent sports injuries in the first place and stay at the top of your game.

Stylized image of man kicking soccer ball

Bad habit No. 1. Playing through pain

Pain is a sign that something is wrong. Don’t ignore it. Talk with your healthcare provider for advice on how to treat your pain. 

Bad habit No. 2. Skipping a warm-up

A warm-up prepares your muscles for activity. Failing to warm up can increase the risk for knee injuries, shin splints, and other problems. For a good warmup, walk, jog, or exercise at an easy pace for 5 to 10 minutes. Then stretch the muscles you’ll be using during the activity. 

Bad habit No. 3. Using the wrong gear—or no safety gear at all

If your sport uses safety gear, wear it. This includes helmets, eye protection, knee pads, and wrist guards. Make sure everything fits correctly and isn’t too worn out. 

Bad habit No. 4. Wearing the wrong footwear

Shoes should absorb shock and fit you well. You may also want to invest in a pair of shoes specific to your sport, such as court shoes or cleats, if you play that sport 3 or more times a week. 

Bad habit No. 5. Working out in old, worn-out shoes

If you run regularly, buy new running or training shoes every 3 to 5 months so that your shoes have the coorect cushion and support. Wearing shoes that have lost their cushioning and support can contribute to stress fractures. Your shoes may last 6 months to a year if you don’t log miles every day. 

Bad habit No. 6. Eating too little

Some sports, such as gymnastics, encourage a lean physique. This can pressure athletes to eat very little or overexercise to burn more calories. Restricting what you eat can hurt your athletic performance and cause various problems such as muscle fatigue, dehydration, and kidney damage. Females may stop menstruating and suffer bone loss. 

Bad habit No. 7. Using improper technique

It may seem simple, but doing the movements of your sport correctly can help prevent injury. If your sport involves jumping, for example, practice landing softly with your knees bent. In some contact sports, it’s very important to know how to tackle correctly.

Bad habit No. 8. Not resting enough

Take at least one day off every week to allow your body to rest and recover. After a hard training day, choose an easy training day. Over time, failing to give your body adequate time to repair itself can cause overuse injuries such as stress fractures. 

Bad habit No. 9. Going too hard, too soon

Respect your body’s limits. Doing activity when your body isn’t prepared can cause injuries such as Achilles tendon tears. Don’t try to cram in a week’s worth of exercise on Saturday. Likewise, don’t sprint as fast as you can during a game of Ultimate Frisbee if you haven’t run that fast in ages. Build up your activity level slowly over time.

Online Medical Reviewer: McDonough, Brian, MD
Date Last Reviewed: 8/1/2019
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