Australians love to watch and play sports, and there is a general perception that most sports injuries are freak accidents and that they occur by chance. But there is always a reason, or a combination of factors that result in a sports injury. This also means that a wide range of sports injuries could be avoidable.
The media often characterises injuries to professional athletes as “freak accidents” whether from routine play or practice. And only less than one in 10 news stories on injury events labeled as freak accidents include a prevention message.
First, let’s define what a freak accident is. A freak accident is an incident, especially one that is harmful, that is extremely unlikely and unusual.
The US media makes use of the phrase “freak accident” in the reporting of injury events. A paper identified 250 human injury stories over a 5-year period that used this phrase. Majority of the stories related to injuries are sustained by professional athletes and these are mainly focused on the nature or outcome of the injury. And only 9% of the professional athlete injury news stories have clear prevention content.
Many people believe sports injuries is an inevitable consequence of participation in sport. It is not a surprise that this outlook is common if the media does not include prevention, either directly or indirectly in their stories. The use of the term “freak accident” only reinforces any belief that injuries in sport is inevitable and further suggests that they are a result of just bad luck.
For many years, safety officials and public health authorities have discouraged use of the word “accident” when it comes to injuries or the events that lead them. An accident is often understood to be unpredictable, something occurred by chance or an “act of God”, and therefore unavoidable. But in sports events, most injuries are predictable and preventable. That is why the BMJ (British Medical Journal) has decided to ban the term accident.
The term ‘freak accident’ conveys severity of outcome, sometimes calling attention to the gruesome nature of an injury. This only makes unusual threats come out of the blue and provoke concern than risks that are already there on a regular basis.
Injury Prevention in Inevitable
Negative outlooks such as “there is nothing I can do to reduce my risk of injury in sport” and “of course everyone who plays sports gets injured” are barriers to injury prevention. As long as these attitudinal barriers prevail, implementation of prevention programs will remain as a big challenge.
It would become much effective if “freak accident” news stories include prevention information. Stories without prevention information often lead to missed opportunities for promoting safety.
How to Prevent Injury in Sports
Such incorrect beliefs exist, but there are ample ways that can be done to prevent sports injuries. Although preventing them is beyond control, many times they are preventable.
Everything should start with gentle warm-up. It increases blood flow to the muscles, makes you more flexible, and could reduce risk of injuries.
Other ways to prevent sports injuries are maintaining proper body mechanics, avoiding overdoing physical activity, wearing proper gear, doing cardiovascular, strength training, and flexibility exercises, following game rules, and cooling down after play.
Freak accidents? We don’t think so. But we believe we can help avoid injuries in sports. Call us today at 9444 8729!