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How to Prevent Injuries While Exercising
Regular exercise is necessary in order to maintain good health, it can reduce your risk of heart disease as well as lowering your blood pressure. Whether you like to participate in team sports, go on bike rides or run marathons, it is important to exercise safely. Here are our top tips and techniques to help prevent injuries while exercising.
Common exercise injuries
Sprains and strains are two of the most popular injuries which can occur in both low and high impact sports. Sprains happen when a ligament is stretched or in worse cases torn. Strains are commonly known as pulled muscles and are usually minor injuries to muscles or tendons.
Muscle cramps and spasms are common and can occur in any muscles. Cramps and spasms cause chronic pain over a short period due to muscle fatigue, and/or low sodium and potassium.
Shin splints is a common term used to describe an exercise induced pain in the shins. The most common cause of the pain is medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) which can be the result of sports that involve a lot of stopping and starting, such as tennis.
Back pain can be caused by bad posture, bending awkwardly or lifting. In most cases it is in the lower back, although it can be felt anywhere along your spine from your neck to your hips.
Heel pain usually builds up and gets worse over time with a severe pain when you put weight on the heel. Heel pain is usually caused when the band of tissue in the foot, the plantar fascia, becomes damaged.
The Achilles tendon is the band of tissue at the back of your ankle which allows you to extend your foot and point your toes. Many Achilles tendon injuries are caused by swollen tendons, too much force on the tendon can cause it to tear.
Hamstring injuries are common among athletes and are tears to the tendons at the back of the thighs. This can be caused by sudden lunging, running or jumping.
Prevention is better than cure
Personal trainer. Whether you are starting out on a brand new fitness regime or have been training for years, investing in a personal trainer may well be worth it. A good coach will guide you through exercises making sure you workout safely. The right stance and posture could mean the difference between a pulled muscle or exercising in comfort.
Warm up. Prepare your body for exercise and reduce the risk of injury by warming up properly. Warming up increases your body's core temperature and blood flow to your muscles.
Change your workout. Having an exercise routine is a great way to get fit. Avoid neglecting certain muscle groups by changing your work out every so often to include parts of your body you may not have included before.
Be sensible. Overdoing it in the gym can be the most common reason for minor exercise injuries. Gradually increase the time and intensity of your workout to avoid these annoying hold-ups.
Wear the right gear. Choosing the right footwear is crucial as your feet need good support during rigorous activity. The right types will depend on your exercise, you may need shoes that give you good ankle support for some sports and lightweight trainers for other sports. Visit reputable sports shops and ask the staff for their advice.
Strength training. A key factor in overall health and well-being, strength training can increase muscle, tendon and ligament strength, reducing your potential for injury.
Our tips for safer exercise
The most important thing to do during exercise is listen to your body. Your body will tell you when you need to stop whether it is through pain or exhaustion. Don’t push yourself too hard.
Eating a healthy diet is an important part of good health. A lack of nutrition can affect your workout and maintaining high levels of hydration is critical. Hydration affects muscle growth and recovery, remember to drink before, during and after exercise.
If you have a pre-existing injury always check with a doctor before undertaking any activity. They might advise you to wear a support like a knee brace or a wrist guard to give your joints and muscles a little helping hand during your workout.
Stretching is as important as the exercise itself. Sustained stretching will improve your flexibility which in turn can aid athletic performance. Stretch out tight muscles likes hamstrings and Achilles tendon before and after your workout to reduce your chance of injury.
If you have a minor injury which does not require medical treatment, treat it at home using PRICE therapy. PRICE stands for Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
Protection - protect your injury using a bandage or support.
Rest - stop exercising and avoid using the injured joint or muscle.
Ice - for the first 48 - 72 hours apply ice wrapped in a damp cloth to the injury for 15 minutes every two hours.
Compression - limit swelling by using bandages. Wrap it snugly around the affected area but not so that it restricts blood flow. Always remove the bandage before you go to sleep.
Elevation - keep the injured limb raised and supported on a pillow to help reduce swelling.
Sports and exercise injuries can affect your muscles, bones and general health and wellbeing. We aim to help you feel better as quickly as possible with fast access to our specialised services.
For more information on the services we provide at The Edinburgh Clinic, or to book an appointment, please contact us now.
0131 447 2340