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How to Play High Impact Sports Safely

Whether you’re learning about weight loss, researching fitness, or investigating health at a particular age or stage of life, you’re going to find that there’s a common denominator: exercise is a critical part of good health. Exercise builds strong muscles and bones, improves cardiovascular function, and offers a plethora of psychological benefits. Given all that, it may seem like you need to get moving and find a sport or activity to start doing right away.

However, if your chosen form of exercise falls into the category of high-impact, you may need to take some extra precautions. Dr. Nickson has some tips on how you can participate in high-impact sports safely.

High-impact includes more than tackle football

With the news headlines about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and tackle football, you may immediately associate the phrase “high-impact” with contact sports. However, there are many sports and exercise activities that are considered high-impact in addition to football.

In the realm of sports medicine, any activity or sport that includes intense wear and potential trauma to the weight-bearing joints like the ankle, knee, and hip is considered high impact. Examples of high-impact sports include, among others:

Safety precautions

If a high-impact activity is your thing, and you find that you’re less inclined to exercise if you can’t participate in the activity you enjoy most, there are some things you can do to exercise safely. Before beginning any new activity, or beginning an activity after a long period of not doing it, consult Dr. Nickson to make sure that you’re not at risk for injury. Otherwise, follow these tips for exercising safely.

Work with an expert

In addition to a medical provider like Dr. Nickson, working with a fitness instructor or coach decreases your risk of injury. This is because your instructor can help you with things like form and technique, which are critical for avoiding injury.

Warm up every time

An appropriate warm-up increases your blood flow, prepares your muscles and other tissues for more intense activity, and may help you avoid injury. Once your muscles are warm and your blood is flowing, do some stretches to further prepare your muscles.


If you play racquetball, consider adding swimming or cycling to your training regimen, or if you’re a runner, try adding weightlifting to your plan. Cross-training strengthens your body and lessens your risk of injury.

Every athlete can benefit from adding flexibility exercises to their routine. You could participate in a formal yoga class or add a flexibility training component to your regular exercise routine. Increasing your flexibility helps protect you from injury and may even improve your overall athletic performance.

Build up slowly

Any time you increase the speed, duration, or intensity of an activity, you’re at a greater risk of injury. The best way to protect yourself is to build up to your goals slowly and deliberately. It may feel frustrating, but it’s much better to improve slowly than to be injured.

Use the correct gear

Whatever sport you play, make sure that you’re using the proper safety equipment. Even if all you need is a pair of shoes, get shoes that fit properly and replace them as necessary. Using appropriate safety equipment dramatically reduces your risk of injury.

If you’re concerned about whether your favorite sport causes wear and tear on your body, book an appointment online or by phone with Dr. Nickson here at Next Step Orthopedics. Protecting yourself from injury is the best way to continue participating in the activities you enjoy most.

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