Injury Prevention for Summer
With Summer here again, it’s time to get up and be active. As the days become longer, sunnier and warmer, there’s never a better time to recommit to a healthier you.
At Excel Physiotherapy and Wellness we are also committed to helping you to move your health forward. We fully understand the enormous physical and mental benefits of exercise and we’re here to support you on your exercise journey. Perhaps more importantly, we know that the exercise you choose has to be something that you love to do. More than anything, we want to keep you injury free, so that you can fully enjoy the exercise that you love.
After all, prevention is better than cure.
How do you prevent from being injured in the first place, so that you don’t have to fix an injury later?
In this article, Managing Director and Principal Physiotherapist, Tim Ellis, talks about the importance of injury prevention and gives you practical tips to stay injury free this summer.
It seems obvious that stretching tight muscles prevents injury. So it’s interesting that a systematic review of 25 studies in over 25,000 people conducted just this year showed no correlation between reduced rates of injury and stretching prior to exercise (Lauersen et al, British Journal of Sports Medicine).
Has stretching perhaps been given too much credibility as a form of injury prevention? Or is there something wrong with the research?
There’s no question that stretching can make you feel good, because it is good and we should all do it. In the modern world we don’t stretch enough. Stretching is proven to give multiple benefits — not only for the health of muscles and ligaments, but also for that of the arteries, helping to prevent clots and plaque from forming. But stretching alone does not prevent injuries because it doesn’t pre-condition the joints and muscles sufficiently. Stretching only helps to prevent injuries in conjunction with range of-motion exercises and strengthening exercises.
Range of motion
Time and again, maintaining a range of motion around joints has been shown to reduce the risk of injury in sports.
One of the most common injuries is the simple ankle sprain. It has been shown categorically that a loss of range is directly related to increased sprains.
The challenge is in identifying a normal range of motion. That’s where you may need a professional assessment. The physiotherapists at Excel Physiotherapy and Wellness are experts in using preinjury screening tools to help you to assess your true range of motion and risk of injury.
Put simply, if your range of motion is good then your joint travels through that range and doesn’t need to ‘grab’ that range from elsewhere.
In an ankle with a loss of range, under a high load such as a lunge, the only thing left to ‘give’ is a ligament or tendon, which snaps, frays or tears, causing pain and swelling.
Stabilising, strengthening and balancing
The study involving 25,000 participants quoted above showed that pre-participation strengthening exercises reduced injuries by up to 65%. That’s an amazing statistic.
Those exercises were designed to address stability, strength and balance. That’s why professional sports teams and clubs invest so heavily in stability-training programmes, which now routinely include yoga and Pilates.
Why such a dramatic effect?
To find the answer we have to look back to our distant past. The truth is, in the modern word we just don’t use our bodies as nature intended. We don’t spend our days hunting, gathering and building shelters as our ancestors did. As we evolved we were on our feet most of the time. We got under rocks to set traps, we climbed into trees to collect fruit and we dug into the ground to collect roots, shoots and grubs.
The stability muscles of our ancestors were naturally ‘switched on’. Mostly, in the modern world, ours are ‘switched off’.
Imagine then, if your joints aren’t as supported or as balanced as they should be and you engage in some explosive activity, without pre-conditioning your joint. Something’s got to give! There may be a sudden dramatic tear or strain, or a slight strain that may worsen slowly over time. Either way, you need to prepare by doing strengthening and stabilising exercises before you exercise. That way you will really cut down your risk of preventing injuries this summer.
Warm up, warm down
Most of us hate warming up for exercise. It can seem like such a waste of time when all we want to do is our beloved exercise. The adrenaline is pumping and time
is in short supply. But a ten to fifteen minute warm up involving strengthening, stabilising and range-of-motion exercises or a light jog is essential.
In addition, after you’ve trained, don’t just stop. Your heart rate will be elevated and your adrenal system working hard. Your muscles will be warm and well fuelled
with oxygen and nutrients. It’s too harsh to just switch that all off immediately. If you do you run a greater risk of the dreaded DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). If you’re going for a run, slow down to a trot, then a five-minute walk to get the heart rate down and slowly switch the blood flow away from the muscles and back to the core.
After training we need to let the body repair. Muscle growth and development is complex but research shows that they cannot be completed without adequate rest. Additionally, exercising when you are exhausted makes it harder to engage your core and stabilising muscles. Research shows that most football injuries occur towards the end of the game, when players are fatigued. Don’t let that happen to you — make sure you take time to recover!
Don’t forget that good nutrition is vital to a healthy musculoskeletal system, especially as we get older. A well-balanced diet is essential. With our culture’s emphasis on processed foods it’s easy to become deficient in vital minerals and elements. One example is magnesium, which decreases muscle cramps and tightness after exercise and should feature in any recovery programme. A high-quality fish oil may help reduce joint pain, inflammation and swelling, as well as provide benefits such as reduced cholesterol and improved nerve health and brain function.
- muscular aches, pains,
- cramps and spasms
- leg cramps
- premenstrual syndrome, pain
- and cramping.
Your Injury Prevention Essentials
Injury Prevention Assessment
Are you currently exercising regularly or do you plan to start? Avoid injuries and call 1300 650 510 today to book your injury prevention assessment, or book online instantly.
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