Sport and exercise can sometimes cause injuries whether you are experienced or just beginning and no matter at what level you perform.
To reduce the risk of being injured while exercising, make sure you are doing things properly by seeking expert advice before you start e.g. personal trainer if you have joined the gym or sports specific coach. If you already have a problem it is a good idea to see a qualified health professional for advice on safe training and when to return to your sport.
If you already exercise it is a good idea to regularly update your training techniques and level with a qualified instructor. We all get into bad habits.
Before starting a new exercise programme or taking up a new sport, it could be a good a good idea to visit your GP for a check-up and fitness assessment.
Sport injuries can be acute (recent injury less than 6 weeks) or chronic (longer than 6 weeks)
Acute sports injuries need immediate treatment. Initially remember R.I.C.E.
If in doubt go to Accident and Emergency for an assessment and then seek follow up physiotherapy from a Sports Injury Specialist.
Chronic sports injuries can occur due to bad technique or occasionally structural abnormalities, most commonly bio-mechanical, the position your foot strikes the floor, the more your gait varies from neutral the more likely you are to have a problem.
Other conditions can cause chronic problems e.g. arthritis, past trauma. Chronic sports injuries should
be investigated by a medical professional to determine the cause and to prevent further injury.
Some common sports injuries include:
The answer is simple, everyone.
No matter what your age or condition we all need to do some form of activity. It does not need to be a specific sport or going to the gym, although it can be, but something you enjoy, walking and gardening are both good cardio-vascular activities.
It depends very much on you and your lifestyle however recent research has shown that exercising early in the morning is not good as your body functions have not got going. Before exercise it is a good idea to have been up and about for a couple of hours to allow the body to warm up naturally.
This is not the same as a warm up to prepare your body for sport.
Allow two to three hours before exercising after a heavy meal.
If you exercise straight after a large meal, blood is sent to the muscles and away from the intestines. This can cause nausea, stomach cramps and discomfort.
Listen to your body it generally gives you good information!
You can have a small snack before your workout, such as a piece fruit or a drink, avoid snacks that are high in sugar, including soft drinks. You might get a quick energy boost but it’ll probably be followed by a sudden energy slump.
Choose starchy foods which slowly release sugars, such as brown bread or bananas, which help to keep your energy levels constant during exercise.
The three main components of fitness are:
When training properly all of the above should be included in your programme however frequently suppleness is neglected. A lack of suppleness is one of the main avoidable causes of injury in sport.
Warming up is essential before your training session. It makes you more supple and prepared for exercise. Without a warm up your workout will not be as efficient as it could be and muscles will be less supple, so you're more likely to injure yourself.
Ten minutes low intensity cardio-vascular work e.g. walking, cycling, will warm up the muscles and get them ready for higher-intensity activity. The warm-up process sends oxygen to the muscles, where it works with glucose to produce energy. This ensures that the body works more efficiently, and that your workout gives better results.
Stretching helps to reduce muscle tension, improve flexibility and posture, and it reduces your chance of injury. To stretch properly and safely, slowly stretch the muscle just until you feel resistance. Resistance is the point at which you feel a slight pull. Stop and hold each stretch for 20 to 30 seconds without bouncing up and down. During the stretch, breathe rhythmically and slowly. Don’t hold your breath. Make sure that your muscles are warmed up first before stretching.
The best time to stretch is after your warm up and before your training session. Once a week it is advantageous to warm up and have a longer stretching session to increase rather than maintain flexibility. Stretching cannot be rushed.
Aerobic activity is the kind of rhythmic, moderate-intensity exercise that uses the large muscles in your legs. It raises your heart rate and makes you breathe harder. Aerobic exercises, such as running, walking and swimming, are good for your cardiovascular system because they strengthen your heart, lower your blood pressure and improve circulation.
Aerobic exercise lowers your risk of coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancers. Aerobic activity is vital for burning off calories, weight management and general health.
Immediately after your workout, take time to cool down. This gradually lowers your heart rate, and allows your body to recover. It may help to reduce muscle injury, stiffness and soreness. Walk or continue your activity at a low intensity for five to 10 minutes. You can gently stretch the muscles to ease out the lactic acid but do not do an intense stretch programme as the muscles are fully inflated and therefore not pliable.
With moderate-intensity activity, whether it’s walking, gardening or cycling, you're encouraged to do a little every day of the week. Adults should aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a day. Children should do 60 minutes.
Rest becomes important with high-intensity exercise. The body repairs and strengthens itself between workouts, and over-training can weaken even the strongest athletes.
It’s important to drink fluid during any exercise lasting more than 30 minutes. Water may be enough for low-intensity exercise up to 45-50 minutes.
For higher-intensity exercise of 45-50 minutes or more, or lower-intensity exercise lasting several hours, a sports drink will benefit because you lose more than just fluid. The carbohydrate in a sports drink will help to maintain energy levels, and its salt will improve hydration. Sodium should be included in drinks when exercise lasts longer than one hour, or in any event when large amounts of sodium will be lost through your sweat.
It’s important for everyone, no matter what our age or condition, to do some sort of physical activity. Begin an exercise regime that includes things you like
doing rather than what someone else tells you to do.
Exercise with a friend or friends so that you can all keep each other motivated.
Set new challenges to keep yourself interested and motivated and keep going. It's always hard at first, even for elite athletes, but it does get easier.
We have Sports Injury Specialist Physiotherapists at The Chorley Clinic.