Injury is not fun. It can come with pain, setbacks in your training program, delays in strength gains, lengthy physiotherapy sessions, a decrease in mood, and it can make daily tasks harder.
Sports injuries are broadly categorized into 2 types: acute injuries and chronic injuries.
Acute injuries are injuries that happen suddenly. Common acute injuries are bone fractures, muscle tears, and bruises.
Chronic injuries are injuries that happen gradually over time, and are usually due to overuse of the muscle, ligament, tendon or joint. They can also be caused by improper form or faulty equipment. Common chronic injuries are sprains, chronic inflammation, and stress fractures.
Although you cannot avoid 100% of injuries in your lifetime, it's important to be aware that injuries are preventable, especially when doing controlled exercise programs in the gym. On the other hand, if you are an athlete, it may be harder to avoid injury most of the time, but you should still take precautions.
Here are some important things to remember to prevent injury:
Always Properly Warm Up and Cool Down: This includes 10-15 minutes of an activity that gets your heart rate up such as jumping jacks or a brisk walk, followed by dynamic stretches. For a cool down, opt for 10-15 minutes of static stretches. If you are an athlete or an advanced lifter, you may need a longer and more specific warm up and cool down routine.
Use Internal Focus - Pay attention to what you are doing and the muscles being used when performing exercises. You are more likely to be more controlled with each exercise and improved your form. Want to learn more about internal focus? I wrote a blog post on it and why it's important. Read about Internal Focus it here
Sharp Pain? - Pay attention to pain that's sharp or intense while doing an exercise. You may be doing the exercise wrong. Stope and use an alternative exercise until you can ask a Kinesiologist or trainer to correct your form. This one may be a bit obvious to some people, but I've had virtual clients tell me that they continued to do exercises with sharp pain for long periods of time until they developed an injury in the same area they felt the sharp pain. This could have been prevented had they have stopped and asked for advice.
Incorporate Mobility - Include mobility in every workout, or every day if you can. This will help decrease stiffness and help to maintain healthy joints and muscles and be less susceptible to injury.
Hydration - The body needs an adequate amount of fluid to function and even more to exercise well because you lose water when you sweat. Drinking enough fluid allows for the cells in the body, the tissues, bones, organs and muscles to be hydrated and in proper working order. It also allows for better circulation.
Wear Proper Fitting Shoes - Wearing shoes that are too tight or too loose can lead to injury. The feet are vital for movement and are connected to the movement of all the other body parts. The feet and toes should be able to spread in the shoe and the shoe should not slip while walking.
Avoid Overdoing It - Increasing load (weight), increasing frequency of exercise, spending excessive time in one workout and changing to a new workout too fast all place increased stress on the body. If you do one of the aforementioned points above, make sure you pace yourself. If you are unsure of how to change your program safely, as a professional such as a kinesiologist, personal trainer or physiotherapist.
Resistance Training and Corrective Exercises - Proper resistance training will allow for the joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles to become more resilient and tolerant to injury. Corrective exercises performed before or after workout routines will target specific areas that are weak or imbalanced and need to be worked on.
Use Correct Form - It is more important to perform exercises well, than to perform them with heavy weight or high reps. Ask a professional if you are unsure of your form.
Rest and Recovery - Rest and recovery is important. Exercising at high intensities too many days back to back without a rest day will lead to injury in the long run. Rest days are essential. You can actively rest as well by taking a day to walk and stretch or do yoga. Some tips that enhance recovery are consuming protein shakes or high protein in the diet, using muscle recovery tools like foam rollers, massage guns and saunas, as well as getting an adequate amount of sleep.
So there you have it! Lift, jump, run and play safely.
Until next time,