Whether you’re a dedicated athlete or just take an occasional bike ride, an active lifestyle sometimes leads to injury. More than 3.2 million injuries from sports and recreation are treated in emergency rooms annually, according to The National Safety Council’s 2016 Injury Facts Report. Thousands more injuries are seen later by primary care or urgent care physicians – or not treated at all.

The experts of the USC Sports Medicine Center at Keck Medicine of USC treat USC Trojan and professional athletes to help them reach their full potential. Any active person – even weekend warriors – can use our experts’ tips to avoid or minimize sports injuries:

Stretch and warm up

Invest a few minutes to properly warm up, especially if you have been sedentary all day or just woke up. Walk or slowly jog for a few minutes, then focus on the muscles and joints you’ll be working. A sports medicine practitioner can help determine the best stretches for your activity.

Build strength

Regular strength training develops the muscles and tendons, which help stabilize your joints.

Wear protective gear

Bike helmets, knee pads, face masks – whatever your activity requires, wearing the right gear can protect you. Choosing shoes that fit properly can reduce foot and ankle injuries.

Seek early help from a professional sports medicine team

Early intervention through coordinated care from physicians, surgeons and physical therapists can help minimize damage and prevent re-injury. The International Ankle Consortium estimates that 45 percent of all athletic injuries are ankle sprain, but 55 percent of those sprains are never treated. When the ligaments do not heal properly, the joint may remain unstable, greatly increasing the risk of future sprains. Seeking help early puts you on the path to proper long-term healing.

With more non-surgical and minimally-invasive treatment options than ever before, you can get back to doing what you love faster.

Request an appointment with a USC Sports Medicine physician.

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
International Ankle Consortium
Consumer Product Safety Commission
National Safety Council