There’s no denying the health benefits of sport. By staying active, you can cut your risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes and a host of other potentially serious health conditions. Like most things in life though, it’s not quite as straightforward as that though. Each time you step onto the squash court, test your skills at tennis or take part in any other sport, you risk doing yourself an injury. From back pain and bone injuries to hamstring damage and heel pain, there are a range of things that can go wrong when you’re working up a sweat.

Of course, you can treat many of these injuries with the help of a sports first aid kit. For example, medical supply specialists Steroplast Healthcare point out that hot and cold therapy sprays, rubs and compression packs can be used to provide relief from muscle pain and stiffness. As a general rule though, it’s best to try to avoid getting injured in the first place.

To help you stay out of harm’s way when you hit the gym or step onto the football field, bear the following tips in mind.

Always warm up

An effective warmup is a must. Even if you’re short on time, make sure you do some stretches and loosen your muscles before you launch into your sporting activities of choice. Ideally, your warmups should last for at least six minutes and they should focus on the muscle groups you’ll be using most. As well as stretches, you can try marching on the spot, heel digs, knee lifts, knee bends and shoulder rolls. Don’t be put off if no one around you is warming up properly. So what if your routine causes a few raised eyebrows. Your sporting friends will soon see the point of your stretches if they come down with cramp or a torn cruciate ligament.

Use the right equipment

They say that only a bad workman blames his tools, but when it comes to sports, having the right gear is essential. By kitting yourself out with suitable equipment, you can dramatically cut your risk of suffering an injury. Investing in anything from good quality running or crossfit shoes to shin guards or gum shields. Even though you’ll need to spend some money to get all the right gear, it could save you potentially costly medical bills further down the line.

Don’t push yourself too hard

Especially if you’re the competitive type, you might be tempted to push yourself too hard when you’re playing sports. This is a big mistake. By putting excessive strain on your body, you’ll seriously increase your chances of suffering an injury. With this in mind, always take your fitness into account and if you feel like you’re approaching breaking point, slow down or stop. It’s just not worth taking the risk.