How to exercise smart and prevent injury

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When you hit the gym, the field or the track, the last thing you want to take home is an injury. But the more time you spend exercising, the higher the risk. Here are several tips to help manage, treat and prevent injuries so you can keep doing what you love, for longer.

Research has shown that women are especially susceptible to debilitating ruptures of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), which helps to stabilise the knee joint. A combination of anatomical, biomechanical and other factors is at play. When comparing a woman’s physiology to a male, women have smaller, weaker muscles supporting the knee, a wider pelvis, and thigh bones which angle inward more sharply from hip to knee. Women also have a greater imbalance between the quadricep and hamstring muscles, which can contribute to knee injuries. And there are biomechanical differences between the way men and women land on their feet, as in running or jumping. Researchers have also suggested that the female hormone oestrogen makes women more vulnerable to ACL injury by weakening this ligament.

The importance of warming up

A proper warm-up will heat and loosen the body. Different forms of sport and exercise require different warm-ups, but as a general rule, a dynamic warm-up will get all the joints moving one at a time, then all together, taking the body through progressive movements that loosen and stretch your muscles. Classic dynamic warm-up moves include walking lunges, toe touches, and high knees.

Your outfit counts

For some sports, protective equipment is important to prevent damage. This is particularly relevant for sports involving physical contact, think football and hockey (shin guards) and boxing (boxing gloves and protective head gear).

It’s also important to wear the correct footwear. The right shoes will support the foot and ankle, helping to prevent twisting and injury. In addition, many athletes wear supports, such as knee, ankle, or elbow supports, to offer additional support and protection to joints which may have been weakened by an earlier injury. Supports help stabilise the joint and prevent further damage.

Keep moving post-workout

More exercise is probably the last thing on your list after a big session, but according to a study recently published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, performing light exercise post-workout may help ease your soreness, and can be just as beneficial as having a massage.

Another useful tip is to use heat to increase blood flow, which will ease your sore muscles. Soak in a hot bath, or if the pain is isolated, apply heat directly to your trouble spot. Many peel-and-stick heating pads stay in place for hours and are thin enough to wear under clothing.

Finally, taking an Omega-3 pill once a day reduces soreness and eases inflammation 48 hours after a strength-training workout, according to research published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. Omega-3s — which are also found naturally in foods such as salmon, spinach, and nuts — may help boost circulation to sore muscles while also reducing inflammation.

Rehab your injury

If your injury is severe (i.e. you can’t put weight on the area, or have swelling, numbness or severe pain) you should see a doctor. If you can treat the injury yourself, the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method is tried and tested and very often effective.

Rest. Reduce your regular activities. If you’ve injured your foot, ankle, or knee, take weight off of it.

Ice. Place an ice pack on the injured area for 20 minutes, four-to-eight times a day. You can use a cold pack or ice bag. Take the ice off after 20 minutes to avoid cold injury.

Compression. Put even pressure (compression) on the injured area to help reduce swelling. You can use an elastic wrap, special boot, air cast, or splint. Ask your doctor which one is best for your injury.

Elevation. Place the injured area on a pillow, at a level above your heart, to help reduce swelling.

 

Be prepared with a first aid kit

The type of first aid that may be required varies for every sport. Because bruises, abrasions, and sprained ankles are more common in some field sports, their first aid kit, for instance, needs to be stocked with cold packs, elastic bandages, and Band-Aids. A track team’s kit, on the other hand, needs to have plenty of supplies to treat blisters, abrasions, pulled muscles, and sprains. Sunscreen and allergy kits may also be appropriate for outdoor sports.

If you are regularly involved in sport, it’s worth having some knowledge of first aid, especially if you are playing sports in areas where there is no immediate access to trained medical people. At Real First Aid, you can sign up for first aid courses, or they can visit your workplace or sports club to work with larger groups. Think of it as an essential investment into your health and wellness, and that of everyone around you.

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Paige Hathaway

5 hours 12 minutes ago

How’s this for motivation... 😱😱
Mia is in there sweating and crushing her workout!! Life is better when you’re dripping in sweat!
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Don’t forget to take advantage of Sweet sweat’s
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Paige Hathaway

22 hours 56 minutes ago

Happy Thanksgiving Instagram!! 🍁
Here’s the perfect calorie burning workout for after we stuff our faces today with @envysfit 😤😤

- TAG A FRIEND BELOW AND #LetsWork

Here’s 5 exercises - Do each movement for 1 min as many good form reps as you can. Rest 30 secs between!
- Overhead Lunges w/ Medicine ball Slam into Squat.
- Plank on stability ball with rotating knee to ball.
- Kettlebell deadlift.
- Bosu Ball Squat w/ dumbbell overhead press.
- Stability Ball Crunches with weight overhead.
AND 4 REPEAT TIMES (This workout takes 30 mins)

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