Preventing Extreme Sports Injuries

Preventing Extreme Sports Injuries

The term 'extreme sports' implies the high amount of inherent danger involved in certain sports. In such sports, the saying 'prevention is better than cure' should actually be applied to lead a safe and secure life.
Extreme sports are completely different from other sports because the level of physical exertion and speed is higher than that in traditional sports. Dangerous stunts are also a major part of extreme sports which are responsible, to a great extent, for serious injuries. In traditional sports, injuries are less frequent and minor as compared to extreme sports where injuries are frequent as well as major. In traditional sports, when a person acquires basic skills essential for that sport, there are less chances of injury as the level of danger is lower. On the contrary, in an extreme sport, although a person is highly skilled, the chances of an accident resulting in an injury are more and they remain constant because the level of risk is always high. Before moving on to the prevention of extreme sports injuries, we should know which are the sports that are extreme by nature.

Types of Extreme Sports

Which sport is extreme and which is not is a debatable issue, however, there are some sports that can be regarded as extreme sports. In 2004, Joe Tomlinson tried to categorize extreme sports. According to him, sports associated with water, land and air should be termed as extreme sports. Let us take a look at some extreme sports under each category given below:

Water SportsLand SportsAir Sports
  • Wake boarding
  • Scuba diving
  • Speed sailing
  • Jet skiing
  • Power boat racing
  • Open water swimming
  • Cliff diving
  • Free diving
  • BMX (Bicycle Motocross)
  • Mountain boarding
  • Caving
  • Skateboarding
  • Snowboarding
  • Snowmobiling
  • Adventure racing
  • Street luge
  • Sky diving
  • Sky flying
  • Bungee jumping
  • Hang gliding
  • Base jumping
  • Sky surfing
  • Sky jumping
  • Gliding

How to Avoid the Injuries

There are some sports injuries that are common to all extreme sports like strains and sprains, bumps and bruises, fractures and lacerations (a cut in the skin that causes some damage to the living tissue), concussions, etc. One can suffer from an extreme sport injury when he or she tries to perform beyond his/her capacity without realizing its severe consequences. Following are some of the important things to do to protect oneself from extreme sports injuries. However, there are no perfect methods which can assure you 100% safety. But they can definitely minimize the risk of injury and reduce its intensity.

Physical Conditioning
Most people involved in extreme sports do not feel the need for regular exercise and physical conditioning of their body. They feel that practicing their sport regularly is itself enough exercise for their physical maintenance. This leads to a stage where people fond of extreme sports do not take part in those sports as they grow older, because their physical condition does not allow them to do so. They are suffering from so many bad injuries that it becomes impossible for them to bear any more pain. Following are some factors which can help better physical conditioning.

Warming Up
Warm up exercises are very important before beginning any sports practice. It includes a combination of cardiovascular exercises, strength drills and stretching. Cardiovascular exercises increase the body's temperature, the heart rate and blood circulation which is required for further movement of the body. Strength drills increase the stamina of the body, while stretching warms up the muscles, preparing them for sudden forceful movements. Stretching should strictly come after gentle warm up exercises because sudden and jerky stretching, known as ballistic stretching, can cause muscles, ligaments or tendons to tear. Give sufficient time for stretching, as stretching done in a hurry may prove to be inadequate and cause adverse effect. Slow and consistent breathing is required throughout the activity. Along with physical preparation, warming up prepares you mentally to begin a sport, building self-confidence. It also plays an important role in boosting team spirit for a team sport. A warm up session should last for at least 20 minutes and it can extend up to half an hour.

Avoid Overdoing
The term weekend warriors is applicable for people who do not condition their body for the sport on a regular basis and perform a week's task in a day or two. These weekend warriors are more prone to extreme sports injuries as compared to those who practice regularly. They do not realize the effect of overdoing during the performance and keep doing it until they feel extremely tired. Apart from the actual sport, one should also avoid overdoing warm up exercises before the activity. The correct technique is to begin with gentle movements of arms and legs, and then move on to more rigorous ones.

Cool Down Yourself
Just as warming up is essential before any rigorous physical activity, cooling the body after playing a rigorous sport is also a significant part of physical conditioning. When you are done with your sports session, you can conclude with some gentle aerobic steps, walking, jogging or easy running. Slight stretching exercises, focusing on specific muscles, will also be useful for cooling down the body.

Falling Technique to Avoid Injury
Generally, when you are landing after a stunt in any extreme sport, you should bend your knees. Avoid falling in an awkward position where your arms or legs will twist. This will protect your bones and muscles. In case of skateboarding, it is a must how to learn to fall to avoid or minimize the level of injury. Generally, while falling in skateboarding, your body weight falls on your delicate wrists, which can be extremely painful. To avoid this, you should try to keep the bottom of your shoes parallel to the ground and hold your arms tight to the sides to protect your wrists.

Some Points to Remember
  • Do not imitate stunts shown on television because the people performing them are professionals with a lot of experience and training.
  • Look for a coach to train you, if you are enthusiastic in participating in the sport and want to perform it with proper training and confidence.
  • Beware of the warnings about the weather condition and use protective gear like helmet, goggles, gloves, padding, etc.
  • You should also be careful about your clothes for warmth and protection. It is beneficial to wear layers of clothing as it can help you add and remove the layers and adjust to the varying temperature. Wear clothes resistant to water and wind for extra protection.
  • Do not participate when suffering from pain due to a previous injury or exhaustion as it can cause severe health complications.
  • Drink water or healthy energy drinks at regular intervals to avoid dehydration.
  • Do not bend your knees more than half while doing knee bends. While stretching, never twist your knees. Try to keep them as straight as you can.
  • Make sure that the surface on which you exercise is soft and flat.
  • You should go through a physical examination before participating in any extreme sport.
These are some general tips to prevent extreme sports injuries, however, preventive measures can be more effective if they are followed according to specific age groups. It is found that adolescents are more susceptible to these injuries than children and adults because their muscles, tendons, bones and ligaments are in a growing phase. Also, the type of sport you are associated with, is an important part of concern while taking preventive measures.