For those of us that love being active, a sports injury can be a real blow. There’s nothing worse than being kept from your morning workout by a sprained ankle, pulled hamstring or knee injury. In particular if you’re returning from time away from exercise, or you’re a newcomer, it’s easy to push yourself too far. To help you stay in the game, read these injury prevention tips to help you get fit without getting injured.
1.Warm Up Properly
A good warm up before you exercise is crucial to injury prevention. Why? Warming up dilates your blood vessels and increases your heart rate, supplying your muscles with oxygen. This boosts the temperature and flexibility of your muscles, meaning you’re less likely to strain or tear them.
Some dynamic stretching can also reduce tension in joints and tendons meaning you’re ready to go. But be careful not to over-stretch since this can actually cause further injury. It’s vital to do the correct strengthening exercises and stretches for your body so as not to overwhelm your muscles with constant stretching!
It’s not all about the pre-game, a cool down after exercise is just as important in preventing irritating and painful injuries. A cool down helps to gradually slow your heart rate and relax your muscles, which is particularly important for cardiac health and reducing the buildup of lactic acid.
Lactic acid shouldn’t be confused with normal next-day aches which are the result of tiny tears in the muscle fibre. These mean your muscles are working well, rebuilding and getting stronger and are nothing to worry about. However, if your muscle pain continues for over 4 days it’s best to talk to a physio or trainer about the best route forward. Be sure to factor in time for both a warm-up and cool-down to help you enjoy your exercise without the risk of injury!
3.Vary Your Exercise
A key cause of sports injury is placing repetitive strain on a very specific muscle group. The key culprits here are those that repeat the exact same exercises every day without rest. This means muscles are exerted repeatedly without time to recover. The answer? Mix it up! If you did some weight training on Monday, hit the pool on Tuesday. Varying your activities will not only help you avoid getting injured but it’ll increase your overall endurance too!
4.Fuel Your Workouts Properly
They say you are what you eat, and nowhere is this truer than fitness. Your performance in your workout is directly linked to what you eat and drink, so be sure to fuel your body with the vital energy it needs to avoid strains and tears. That means eating carbohydrates to help rebuild your glycogen stores in recovery and plenty of protein to repair and build muscle tissue. Don’t forget to keep your body well hydrated too by drinking plenty of water. This will ensure a good balance of electrolytes that support muscle contractions and cartilage repair before, during and after your workout.
5.Listen To Your Body
Of course, the odd ache or stiffness during training is normal and nothing to worry about. But persistent pain or tightness is not something to taken lightly. Listening to your body is imperative to injury prevention. That means seeking help from a physio or doctor if symptoms continue or get worse, and making sure to give your body the rest it needs to recover.
So there you have it! Follow our four simple tips to help you on your journey to get fit – without the pain and hassle of getting injured. Another main cause of sports injury is a lack of knowledge about how to exercise correctly. Our experienced trainers guide you through our tried-and-tested training programmes to ensure maximum results and minimum injuries. Get in touch today to try a free trial!