How many of you have had this experience? There’s been no time to get to the gym in the last month or so. So finally when there is time, you (consciously or subcounsciously) “make up” for lost time. The next day…OUCH, you feel like you’ve been hit by a truck!
This is a common scenario for most of us. New exercisers often “overdo” at first because they are unaware of the impact of sudden and intense activity on the body and its need for adjustment.
Regular and experienced exercisers often forget that fitness slowly declines when stopped for more than a couple of weeks. The body needs to readjust to the demands placed on it. For me, it’s just plain old ego…I don’t want to admit to myself that I have lost any of my fitness!
“Overdoing” is just one of the many ways that we can hurt ourselves when we are using our bodies vigorously. Aside from the obvious twisted ankle (acute injury), there are many injuries that happen insidiously (tendonitis, arthritis etc.). Now before I scare you away from exercise, its worth mentioning that most of these injuries happen just as often in sedentary people because of lack of exercise.
So, the real point of this article is to give you some guidelines to help you avoid exercise/sports injuries whether you are a newbie or an experienced exerciser/sports participant:
• Wear proper shoes for the particular sport or activity.
• Always were protective gear for the sports you are involved in. Helmets are not just for kids!
• Comfortable clothes that you can move in are always good, but special outfits for the sport are not usually required unless you like them or for a team.
• Start out slowly if you are new to the sport or exercise OR you haven’t done it in more than 2 weeks.
• Warm up BEFORE stretching. This is important. Muscles are tight when cold and stretching them can injure them. What is a good warm up? A slower version of the activity you are going to do is good. For example, walk for 5 minutes before you begin running. If you are going to throw a ball, gentle arm circles and other movements for several minutes will warm up the shoulder and elbow joints.
• Stretch often. Stretching can be performed after warm-up, but I find it to be the most efficient when I am finished with the activity or when there’s a break in the activity. The muscles are warm and most receptive. Always be careful not to overstretch.
• Take lessons or training if you are new to the activity. This ensures that you are moving in such a way to not only perform well (win!) but also not injure yourself. I have personal experience with this: I decided to run a marathon. I trained myself but just couldn’t accomplish the distances I needed to get there. Then, I had coaching for my running style which I was told was a speed style, not distance style. I thought running was something we all do naturally and all that’s needed to run was to run! Since that coaching, I have completed many marathons.
• Add new activities or exercises carefully. The body needs time to adapt.
• Drink LOTS of fluid (water is usually best) before during and after your activity, especially in hot weather. A good guide for this is 500ml of liquid every 15 minutes during the activity. It’s not nearly as good for the body to drink only before and after, drink during as well. You will find your performance to be much better!
• Apply the 10% rule. This is a great rule of thumb. Increase your time OR intensity level by a maximum of 10% per week. If you are running, increase either distance by 10% per week or speed by 10% per week – but not both in the same week. If you are weight lifting, increase the number of times you lift the weight (repetitions) by 10% maximum or the amount of weight by 10% maximum per week.
• If you are already working with injuries, talk to your physical therapist or personal trainer about what to do that works and doesn’t work with your body and situation.
Listen to your body! If you are tired, rest! If you have pain beyond muscle soreness or swelling, see a doctor.Copyright 2006 Ainsley Laing
About the Author:
|Ainsley Laing, MSc. has been a Fitness Trainer for 25 years and writes exclusively Body for Mind eZine. She holds certifications in Group Exercise, Sports Nutrition and Personal Fitness Training. Click here to read other articles by Ainsley.|
“Tips to Avoid Injury”
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