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After completing this chapter, you should be able to do the following:

  • Realize that participation in physical activity sometimes creates situations in which injuries may occur.

  • Discuss the principles and guidelines of injury prevention.

  • Describe fractures, contusions, ligament sprains, muscle strains, muscle soreness, tendinitis, and bursitis.

  • Identify the causes of low back pain and describe how such pain can best be avoided.

  • Describe the RICE approach to the initial treatment of injuries.

  • Identify exercises that may be dangerous or contraindicated.

  • Discuss the precautions that should be exercised when working out in either a hot or a cold environment.


  • low back pain

  • RICE

  • heat-related illness

  • hypothermia

How Can You Prevent Injuries?

Certainly, you don't participate in physical activities with the idea that you are going to be injured. Ironically, the nature of participation in any type of physical activity increases the possibility that injury will occur. Fitness programs will hopefully make you more fit and should ultimately reduce the possibility of injury. The overload demands placed on the body during exercise enable it to handle added stresses and strains that occur during physical activity. Thus, the first step in practicing "safe fitness" and in preventing injuries associated with physical activity involves designing a well-planned fitness program based on the principles of overload, progression, consistency, individuality, and safety.

If you are involved in some physical activity and realize that a specific part of your body is causing discomfort or pain that affects your performance, it is strongly recommended that this problem be evaluated immediately. Injuries should be evaluated by persons experienced in dealing with sport-related injuries, such as physicians, athletic trainers, or physical therapists (Fig. 9-1). Safe Tip 9-1 provides recommendations about when a health care professional should be consulted. The sooner an injury is diagnosed and treatment begun, the less chance there is that continued activity will make the problem worse. The popular quote "no pain, no gain" holds no credibility with regard to an activity program.

Figure 9-1

Health care professional. It is wise to have injuries evaluated by a trained health care provider. Courtesy of Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/ Thinkstock.

Safe Tip 9-1

Basic Self-Treatment Guidelines

When trying to determine whether a health problem requires attention from a health care provider, ask yourself the following questions. If you answer yes to any of them, consult a professional.


  • Is this injury or pain so severe that I can't carry out my usual activities? Does it represent a threat to my health?

  • Is this a strange sign or symptom, something that I have not experienced before?

  • Is this condition worsening rather than improving?

  • Have I had this condition too long?

  • Have I had this condition in the past and it keeps recurring?


  • Is there blood in ...

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