Preventing Sports Injuries

When I started running I posted on facebook that “with my knowledge I intended to avoid all running injuries”. Obviously (hopefully) this doesn’t include accidental injuries like falls, trips or twisted ankles.

What I mean by this is the preventable sports injuries.

I think that all preventable injuries (whether sports related or not) can be grouped in five categories;

  • New use
  • Over use
  • Misuse
  • Abuse
  • Dis-use

As someone starting running, or anyone starting a new or different activity, the categories that we have to consider when trying to prevent injury are the first two, new use and over use.

Part of the problem with new use is that our muscles aren’t conditioned for our new activity. Many of us have jobs that require us to sit for long periods at a desk, then we end up on a couch in front of a TV at night. With no time during the week to exercise, a lot of us will leave putting our effort into the weekends sporting activity.

The trouble with this is that over time sitting down for long periods will shorten hamstrings, weaken buttock and abdominal musculature and tighten hip joints. This is your weekly body conditioning – you are training your body to perform tasks that enable you to do your job – not your weekend game of football, round of golf, rugby matches, or Sunday morning run.

To stop us getting injuries we have to change the conditioning our body has for work, and start pre-conditioning it for exercise.

The first key step when starting a new sport is to make sure that your preconditioning is appropriate therefore preventing injury. This step is to assess your body. Do some basic stretches to work out where your muscles are shortened making you stiff or tight and find out how flexible you are. Also try and work out if you have any unresolved injuries or muscle weaknesses. If you find you don’t know what to look for, most osteopaths will be more than willing to do a pre-sports musclo-skeletal assessment. They can also advise on a “pre” conditioning plan.

Once you know where your underlying problems are you can start to address them. If you find, for example, that your shins are uncomfortable when you press them, or your calves are tight when you try to stretch them, this could be you on your way to shin splints or plantar fasciitis before you’ve even got as far as buying new running shoes.

When you’re next at your workplace, look at the things that you are “conditioning” and be sure to start pre-conditioning yourself if you want to get the best out of your body and continue with your pastime with-out the frustration of a preventable injury.

My next post will be on preventing OVERuse injuries. This post is appropriate for people just starting exercise all the way to the competitive athlete. Subscribe to find out first when it come out.

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