How to avoid injuries during exercise:
Never skip the warm up or the stretch!
Before you exercise do a 5-10 minute warm up that starts low intensity and gradually increases to a working level. This will help prepare your muscles ready for exercise and they will be more pliable and at lower risk for injury. Warm up the muscles you'll be using for the workout and use similar movement patterns that you'll be doing.
Stretch! At the end take a few minutes to let the heart rate come down. Then stretch each muscle you've worked, holding each stretch for roughly 20-30 seconds or until you feel the muscle relax. The stretch should start off feeling a little bit uncomfortable and then you should feel it ease off. If you feel pain, then ease off the range.
Exercises to prevent injury:
Be active most days! Even if it’s just going for a walk, try not to let your body stagnate. If your body is able, move it to help keep you mobile for longer in life.
Include exercises to strengthen your core and support your lower back. For example, plank, hip bridges, and back extensions.
Add resistance training to your workout. That can be using weights or just your body weight. When we do resistance training, it has so many benefits, but in terms of injury prevention it helps increase bone density – stronger bones are harder to break - and if you’re stronger you’re more likely to be able to stay upright or catch yourself if you were to fall.
Unilateral training, meaning that you train one side only. This is great as the whole body is working – one side does the main exercise while the other side works to stabilise your body; this also sets you up for real life, such as carrying your shopping in one hand. An added benefit is it can highlight muscles that aren’t quite as strong and help to get your body to work evenly.
Balancing exercises. Your balance starts to go from around the age of 25! This can make you more prone to trip and fall over, which we especially want to avoid the older we get. You’ll improve your balance by doing any exercise that makes you unstable, which can be as simple as standing on one leg as you clean your teeth. It will help strengthen the muscles that support the joints, improve your core strength and will improve over time the more you do it. It’s never too late to start either.
Things to do in life to help prevent injuries:
Wear good shoes. You spend the majority of life either in bed or on your feet. Spend a decent amount of money on shoes that provide good support and that fit well, rather a pair of £5 flimsy shoes. You may benefit from getting a gait analysis for running trainers if you're a runner. If you wear heels a lot, be sure to sure to stretch your feet, calves, hamstrings and hips at the end of the day.
Two strap it! Wearing a bag on one shoulder all the time is an amazing way to get an injury. Get a backpack or something that means you can carry your weight evenly. This is also similar to any parents – avoid always carrying your child on one side where possible.
We tend to all be tight in hips, hamstrings and chest due to how much time we spend sitting each day. Daily stretching of these muscles can help prevent injuries (as little as 5 minutes a day is beneficial)
Listen to your body. If you feel you’ve picked up an injury, rest it. If it continues, don’t ignore it, book an appointment with a GP/physio/sports massage etc to try and sort the problem before it escalates.
Quite a lot of information to take on board but we've probably all had an injury at some point in our lives and I think we all know it sucks when your body isn't able to do what it normally can. Here is to staying injury free as much as possible!