can sprains and strains be prevented?

Source: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

Although sprains can occur in both the upper and lower parts of the body, the most common site is the ankle. Most ankle sprains happen when the foot turns inward as a person runs, turns, falls, or lands on the ankle after a jump. The knee is another common site for a sprain. A blow to the knee or a fall is often the cause; sudden twisting can also result in a sprain.

Sprains frequently occur at the wrist, when people fall and land on an outstretched hand. A sprain to the thumb is common in skiing and other sports. This injury often occurs when a ligament near the base of the thumb is torn. Typically, sprains occur when people fall and land on an outstretched arm, slide into a baseball base, land on the side of their foot, or twist a knee with the foot planted firmly on the ground.

Two common sites for a strain are the back and the hamstring muscle (located in the back of the thigh). Contact sports such as soccer, football, hockey, boxing, and wrestling put people at risk for strains. Gymnastics, tennis, rowing, golf, and other sports that require extensive gripping can increase the risk of hand and forearm strains. Elbow strains sometimes occur in people who participate in racquet sports, throwing, and contact sports.

Follow the steps below to prevent sprains and strains:
-- run on even surfaces.
-- maintain a healthy weight.
-- wear shoes that fit properly.
-- do stretching exercises daily.
-- wear protective equipment when playing.
-- be in proper physical condition to play a sport.
-- avoid exercising or playing sports when tired or in pain.
-- maintain a healthy, well-balanced diet to keep muscles strong.
-- warm up and stretch before participating in any sport or exercise.
-- replace athletic shoes as soon as the tread wears out or the heel wears down on one side.
-- practice safety measures to help prevent falls. For example, keep stairways, walkways, yards, and driveways free of clutter; anchor scatter rugs; and salt or sand icy sidewalks and driveways in the winter.