It is exciting starting out the New Year with a return to or perhaps a more focused approach to exercise. But how good would it be to get to the end of January and be injury free?
Here are our top five tips to help you reduce the risk of injury.
Every time you train, be it on a run, in the gym or in a fitness class, you are stressing your body (which is a good thing) and as it recovers from that stress it makes itself a little bit stronger. But, if you increase training loads too quickly and don’t allow sufficient recovery, the opportunity to adapt is reduced and your performance will suffer and injuries can start to appear.
About 80% of injuries are the result of training error e.g. increasing training load too quickly and allowing insufficient recovery.
Use this really easy F.I.T.T. guide to help you manage increases in activity. In any one week change only one of the following aspects of your training schedule.
Frequency – the number of training/activity session per week.
Intensity – how hard you are working. Hill work or sprints, for example are more intense than flat steady state work.
Time – the duration of your workouts.
Type- the type of activity you are doing.
For example: if you are a runner and do 3 x 5km runs a week, don’t add a 4th run and make one of the session a fast run in the same week. That would be a change in frequency and intensity giving the body too much adaptation to achieve in the time.
REST AND RECOVER WELL
Good food, sleep and rest are the best for good recovery between training sessions. Foods to look out for are those rich in anti-oxidants, vitamins C and E. Good quality protein and food rich in omega 3 are also important. Foods to avoid are those high in sugar, processed foods and excessive caffeine. Stress, poor sleep and illness will slow down your recovery times, so take this into account when planning the intervals between your workouts.
All Muscle Balance clients get a free nutrition guidance sheet detailing the best foods for recovery and injury repair. This has been prepared specifically for Muscle Balance by medical nutritionist Belle Amatt.
INCLUDE VARIETY IN YOUR TRAINING
As well as working on cardiovascular fitness, include activities that promote strength, flexibility and balance. These are all important components of all round fitness and help protect against injury. When you are looking at a fitness class the best ones include all of these components plus exercises that work in all planes of movement. To explain, this means movements that aren’t just forward and back, but include side to side and rotations.
A good warm up gets your body ready for training. It increases your heart rate, your body temperature, blood flow and gradually introduces your main joints to the range of motion that will be required of them in your workout. That means a warm up should be tailored to the activity you are going to undertake. It may end up looking a bit like the Ministry of Silly walks but your body will thank you for it. As a guide you should spend at about 10 mins warming up before each session of exercise you do.
Here are some links to some good warm up routines.
LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
To a certain extent aches and pains can be expected as you return to exercise or when you are including a different sport or activity for the first time. In the initial week or so back, you may wake up 1 to 2 days after a session feeling stiff and achy. Don’t panic! This is normal and it is DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) and should subside after 3-4 days.
However, if you have any of thefollowing: persistent or severe pain, swelling, significantly restricted movement, the sensation of giving way or any numbness or tingling in your hands, legs or feet, then visit a health professional who treats sports injuries.
You don’t have to follow a training plan slavishly, listen to your body and respect its need to rest and recover. Remember that stress, illness, poor sleep and poor nutrition delay recovery so cut yourself some slack and reduce your training loads or increase recovery intervals accordingly when these factors are in play.
Finally, treat yourself to a really good massage from a properly qualified soft tissue therapist. We can really help with training recovery, mobility improvement, identifying muscle imbalances as well as tackling restrictions and postural dysfunctions that could give rise to future injures.
For advice or treatment call 07922 114328.