Many of us have had an injury from exercise or sport. Injuries are often painful annoying and can slow or halt our progress. Yet did you know that 50% of injuries are preventable? The reason for this is many injuries are actually an overuse injury (as opposed to acute or contact/impact injuries). So how can we avoid them?
Top 8 tips to avoid injury:
I am sure you have heard the saying "prevention is better than a cure". Well, it is true and encompasses several areas.
- Make sure you have prepared the body so it is ready for the activity or sport you are about to commence. This means for example before you start running you need to ensure your body is ready to "cope" with running.
- I personally suggest my clients get a physio screen done every 12 months to find any issues before they turn into niggles - just like seeing a dentist for a checkup before you need a filling.
2. Get the right gear
Have the right clothing and especially footwear. Make sure you have cross trainers for sports like tennis or netball and ensure you have good running shoes for running. If you cycle ensure your bike is set up correctly. Have an ankle brace if netball puts stress on that joint.
Allow the body a chance to recuperate and rest after a hard session. Always have a lighter day of exercise after a hard session or workout. Avoid having several days in a row of high-intensity work - this leaves you fatigued and will increase the chance you get injured or ill.
You need to move the joints muscles (and brain) for the activity you are about to do. This is a critical but poorly practised component of any activity. People think they do not have time to do it so charge straight into the session. Follow some dynamic movements that mimic the activity in a low-intensity manner and increase over 5-10 minutes. You are warmed up when you are sweating and breathing hard - not after a few arm swing and toe touches.
Recovery after helps the body return to a steady-state and allows the body to start the process of recuperating for the next activity. It should be the opposite of the warm-up - slowly lower the intensity over 5 minutes with light movement and complete it with a few static stretches.
6. Awareness and advice
Seek advice from professionals to help you become aware of what injuries you may sustain in the different exercises or sports that you do. For example, if you are a runner, tight calves, sprained ankles, and sore ITB are common, so learn how to stretch for these areas and be aware of how you feel.
7. Eat and drink
How could eating and drinking help? Food is fuel and fluid is critical to keep you hydrated. Lack of either can lead to fatigue which has been shown to make you more susceptible to injuries due to the brain processing information at a slower rate.
If "niggles" persist, get them looked at. I had one client who was a runner and developed sore hamstrings but thought she could "run through" the niggle. In the end, she needed physio on her lower back, calves, AND the hamstring.
Be aware that some people are more likely to be injured than others so what are the predictors?
- Past injury. If you have injured an area previously, then this has a greater chance of being injured again. How many people do you know who always get a sore knee or shoulder or keep spraining the same ankle? Often, this is because an original injury was not treated correctly and has developed into a chronic problem.
- Training on consecutive days. How much is too much? Always aim for one full rest day per week. If high-intensity training then aims for 3 days on and 1 day off.
If you can avoid these predictors, then you reduce the chance of getting injured even further.
Written by Andrew Verdon