If you are an athlete, it’s a given that from time to time you will suffer a strain or injury. While this may sound a bit pessimistic, the sad truth is that the longer you are in the game, the more stress and strain your body undergoes. I wish there was a way to completely element all chances of injury, but sadly it’s an impossibility. The good news however is that there are several steps you can take to avoid sports injuries.

With a little effort, you can help ward off the likelihood of athletic injuries and keep yourself in the game.

1. Practice Technique

If you are regularly keeping your body fit and toned at the gym, learning the proper technique for your exercises is imperative. If your form is off you could be putting unnecessary stress and strain on your body that could further lead to muscle strain and sprain. Your limbs only have so much mobility and if you aren’t paying attention to proper form you could be stressing them by taking their natural movement to an extreme. Try taking a few sessions with a personal trainer, coach or teammate if you aren’t sure you are doing an exercise correctly.

2. Create a Proper Conditioning Program

In the off season (if you have one), your muscles will begin to change and grow less accustomed to activity. Jumping right back in to your normal routine after injury or coming out of the off season can tear muscles and cause massive injuries. In order to avoid this, be sure to create a conditioning program that will bring you back to your peak performance level on a gradual level.

3. Vary Your Conditioning

It’s easy to end up straining or injuring muscle groups that are being exercised day in and day out. Add resistance training and other strength training programs that will allow you to rest certain muscles while exercising others. By alternating muscle groups you will further reduce your chance of injury.

4.  If You Have Pain, Seek Medical Attention

Many times athletes take the “if I ignore it, it will go away” approach when it comes to pain. Fear of bad news keeps many of us out of the doctor’s office. The truth however is that if you are avoiding medical treatment, you could be doing further damage that can keep you out of training for even longer.

5. Make Sure You are Supplementing Your Nutrition

Even if you are conditioning for weight loss don’t neglect your calorie intake. Remember, calories = energy and if you are conditioning and training regularly you need that energy to remain healthy and even to avoid injury.