Starting a new sport as an adult can really improve your overall health. But staying safe while practicing it is also very important.
Engaging in regular physical activity, both in practice and in actual matches, will help you stay in better physical shape. And engaging with other people can help you stay social, build bonds, and stay mentally and emotionally healthier as well.
However, involving yourself in a sport you’ve never tried before can pose some serious risks as well.
So if you want to stay safe and keep exercising, it’s important to take some safety precautions.
Staying Safe With A New Sport
These are the most important steps to take for your own safety when starting a new sport:
1. Talk To Your Doctor
It’s usually a good idea to talk with your doctor before beginning any new exercises or strenuous activities.
They can help you spot any underlying health conditions that may compromise your ability to perform or grow worse if you partake in said activity, such as a heart condition.
They’ll also be able to provide you specific advice on how to stay safe and get the most out of the activity, personalized for your needs and history.
2. Learn The Rules And Protocols
It may seem like an obvious step to take, but take some time to actually learn the sport.
Watch some amateurs partaking in the sport, and watch how they move around. Do they avoid certain types of movements? Or do they respond in a certain way if it looks like they’re about to get hit by something?
3. Invest In The Right Safety Gear
Many sports require you to invest in some level of protective gear. And if it isn’t a strict requirement, it may be wise to invest in some anyway.
For example, if you’re biking or playing American football, you’ll want to wear a helmet at all times. If you’re playing hockey, you’ll want to wear pads.
If you wear glasses, you’ll want to take extra precautions to avoid breaking them or injuring your eyes. LASIK surgery is one way to permanently improve your eyesight so you no longer have to wear prescription lenses. Athletic glasses may also be available.
Depending on how much contact you anticipate, it may also be wise to invest in a mouthguard.
4. Always Warm Up
Before any sporting or exercise session, it’s important to warm up.
Jumping into an intense activity like sprinting, jumping, or lifting something heavy can result in strain or injury if you haven’t spent time loosening your muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
Walking and lightly jogging can help you warm up your legs, and practicing range of motion exercises can help you warm up the rest of your body.
It can also help to do some light variants of the type of movements you’ll employ in the sport itself.
5. Stretch After Intense Sessions
After a match, or after an intense training session, take some time to stretch.
Stretching has the potential to reduce muscle fatigue and improve your flexibility, which will reduce the possibility of injury.
It’s also a great way to cool down from an intense session before moving on with your life.
Make sure to stretch your entire body, especially any body parts that were worked intensely, and hold those stretches for at least 30 seconds.
6. Don’t Take On More Than You Can Handle
In the heat of competition or when surrounded by people who are cheering you on, you’ll be tempted to push yourself to your absolute limit.
However, until you feel confident about your abilities, it’s best not to take on more than you can handle.
Sprinting too fast, overextending your limbs, or lifting too much can result in serious injury if you don’t know what you’re doing.
So work up to more intense feats gradually.
Training any one part of your body, or training in only one way can leave you more likely to sustain an injury.
In addition to taking on this new sport, consider adopting new exercises and training regimens to complement it.
For example, you could take up yoga and swimming in addition to playing basketball regularly. Full-body, low-impact exercises are best for this purpose.
Know Your Limitations
Exercising and properly playing sports is an ongoing process, so be prepared to make some mistakes and come up against some hard limitations.
If you feel like you’re hitting a wall or if you notice the early stages of a potential injury, take a break.
It’s much better to spend a few days or a few weeks away from the game and come back full force than to keep pushing yourself and make the injury worse.
Learn to listen to your body, and pay attention to how this new training regimen is affecting it.
Staying safe while practicing a new sport is fundamental, so, hopefully, these tips will help you align on the right track.