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Exercises You Should Do to Prevent Common Sports Injuries

Reading Time: 4~7 minutes 

15 March 2024

Sports are exhilarating, demanding, and, quite frequently, unforgiving. 


From the measured tactics of table tennis to the bone-crunching tackles of rugby, every sport carries its own distinct set of risks so injury prevention should be a top priority for athletes, coaches, and anyone passionate about physical activity.  


While it may be impossible to avoid all injuries, the risk can be greatly reduced through targeted exercises that strengthen the body and prepare it for the rigours of athletic activity. 


In this extensive guide, we’ll explore practical and essential injury-prevention exercises for the top five common sports injuries. 

1. Sprains and strains

Experiencing a sprain or strain can be an athlete’s most common setback. Often occurring in sports that require sudden changes in direction, such as soccer or basketball, these injuries impact ligaments (sprains) and muscles or tendons (strains). Partial or complete tears can sideline athletes for weeks or even months.  


Exercise focus: 


  • Dynamic warm-ups
  • – Incorporating leg swings, high knees, and lunges. 
  • Lower body strength training
  • – Including single-leg squats, calf raises, and box jumps for better stability. 
  • Flexibility work
  • – Implementing regular stretching of the quadriceps, hamstrings, and calves. 

2. Hamstring strains

Hamstring strains are most common in sports like track and field and football and it can range from mild pulls to severe tears. Athletes may feel sudden pain in the back of the thigh when these injuries occur, often due to over-striding or overuse without proper conditioning. 


Exercise focus: 


  • Functional training
  • – Employing Nordic hamstring curls and single-leg deadlifts. 
  • Plyometrics
  • – Introducing exercises like lateral bounds and hurdle hops. 
  • Proper body mechanics 
  • – Focusing on running and squatting techniques to reduce stress on the hamstrings. 

3. Knee injuries

Knee injuries, particularly anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears, are feared by athletes in sports such as basketball and soccer. These often result from sudden stops, direction changes, or poor landing mechanics. 


Exercise focus: 


  • Stability work
  • – Utilising wall sits, step-ups, and lateral band walks. 
  • Balance and proprioception
  • – Engaging in exercises with a BOSU ball or balance board. 
  • Core strength
  • – A strong core can help stabilise the entire body, reducing abnormal forces on the knees. 

4. Shoulder injuries

Shoulder injuries, like rotator cuff tears, can be attributed to repetitive overhead motions common in sports such as swimming, tennis, and baseball. Weakness in the shoulder’s stabilising muscles can lead to tears under strain. 


Exercise focus: 


  • Rotator cuff strengthening
  • – Using resistance bands for internal and external rotation.
  • Scapular stability
  • – Practising scapular retractions and shoulder blade squeezes. 
  • Overhead movements
  • – Carefully train the shoulders for the full range of motion with exercises like shoulder dislocations. 

5. Tennis elbow

Lateral Epicondylitis, commonly known as tennis elbow, is an injury affecting the tendons on the outside of the elbow. Sports that involve repetitive gripping actions, like racquet sports or weightlifting, can contribute to its development. 


Exercise focus: 


  • Grip strength training
  • – Squeezing a stress ball or using hand grippers. 
  • Flexbar exercises
  • – Eccentric wrist extension with a specialised resistance bar. 
  • Form and technique
  • – Ensuring proper grip and form, particularly in sports with a high racquet or club head speed. 

Investing in Your Athlete's Future

To take your performance to the next level, seeking the guidance of a sports physiotherapist or a personal trainer with a sports-focus can be invaluable. 


These experts can tailor a programme to address the specific needs and vulnerabilities of an individual, factoring in their sport, current fitness level, and any previous injury history.  


Plus, mentorship and education around these exercises can prepare athletes to manage their fitness independently, making it easier to incorporate injury prevention into everyday training.  


By making injury prevention a non-negotiable aspect of sports training, athletes and their support teams invest in a future that’s not plagued by preventable setbacks. 


It’s a strategy that’s both cost-effective, considering the potential financial costs of serious injuries, and a definitive step towards a long and successful athletic career.