Believe it or not, many injuries can be avoided if you stick to some basic principles. We can’t guarantee that if you follow these principles you won’t get injured but what we can advise is if you incorporate these guidelines into your training you will be more likely to stay injury-free.
1. Start Slow
When you start exercising or practice a sport for the first time, be sure to start off slowly and build up gradually. Your body will react negatively to a “too much too soon” regime and is more likely to pick up niggles and injuries. Increase the intensity, frequency and duration of the activity progressively to avoid overuse injuries. As a general rule, progression rate should be around 10% per week. If you rush the process you will break down rather than build up.
2. Invest in the right equipment
It is important with all sports and activities to invest in the correct equipment and use it in the right way. Firstly, your footwear must be right for each induvial by way of size, fit and the amount of support it gives you. It must also be a correct fit for the sport you are participating in. Your feet and lower legs will work hard to overcompensate from an ill-fitting shoe and this could result in an injury. Secondly, the equipment you use must be the right fit. For example, a hockey stick that is too short may result in you getting back pain from bending over too far. A tennis racket that is too heavy will result in using an incorrect grip and ultimately cause wrist and elbow pain.
3. Warm Up
Preparing the muscles for exercise during a warm up ensures that they are ready for the demands of the activity. Some cardio work, followed by some light stretches and some sports-specific drills to activate the correct muscles will ensure you are exercise-ready.
4. Cool Down
You will all be aware of the heavy feeling after exercise that make your muscles ache and feel stiff!! A thorough cool down helps flush away the waste products that collect in the muscles as a result of exercise. A cool down will reduce your pounding heart rate slowly bringing your body back to a normal state gradually.
5. Recover Well
Bear in mind that fatigue is a common contributor to injury so the more recovery you can get the less likely you are to get injured. Ice baths, massage, refuelling with the right nutrition and using a foam roller are many of the ways that you can help your body recover. Adequate sleep is essential to help the body feel fresh and ready to exercise again. Rest is essential to give the body time to adapt to the stress of exercise and benefit from the result of training.
In summary, listen to your body and be aware of niggles. Don’t ignore the first signs of persistent pain, aches or soreness and push through thinking the discomfort will go away. Address the route of the problem quickly before it gets worse.