Today’s Guest post is by Dr. Peggy Malone, a chiropractor and an athlete who helps other athletes to overcome injury and get back to their sport.
Most every athlete will suffer from an injury at some point in their career and every athlete will agree with me when I say that being injured is never fun.
Athletic injuries are annoying, painful, and they can take you away from your training and sometimes even your competition that you invested time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears into preparing for.
Here are some things to consider when embarking on an athletic or sporting journey that can help you to prevent injuries and stay on track.
Have Reasonable Goals:
I find that many athletes get injured when they read industry magazines or they hear the chatter from far more experienced athletes and they are pushed to go further or faster than their bodies are capable of…just because someone else is.
This running/sports peer pressure is very common and as people get caught up in it, they forget the reasons why they began their athletic adventure and they end up with an injury. So, do your sport because you want to and do it for your reasons and no one elses….your body will thank you.
Avoid the Terrible Toos: I find that the number one reason that athletes get injured is that they disobey the rule of the Terrible Toos.
If you push your training too much, too fast, too soon, you will end up injured. This rule is especially relevant for beginners (anyone who has been running less than 3 years), anyone who has just come back to a sport after months or years off, and anyone who has been injured in the last 3-6 months.
Start Low and Go Slow: One of the best ways to avoid the Terrible Toos is to adhere to the ’10 percent Rule’ which states that you should never increase your weekly mileage or any one run by more than 10 percent over the previous week (or run).
Warm Up: Especially as we get older, the connective tissues and muscles around our joints are less flexible and less pliable than when we were younger. As a result, you can’t just stand up from sitting all day and jump right into your workout….you’ll get injured.
A 5-10 minute warm up will get blood pumping to your muscles and soft tissues and warm up your entire musculoskeletal system. As your body begins to generate heat, your connective tissues soften and become more pliable and are then less likely to get injured.
Once your body is warm, you can then stretch out any tight spots before you begin your workout.
Monitor Your Workout Surface: A soft even surface is the best to run on such as packed dirt or grass. When running around town, the asphalt road is softer than the concrete sidewalk.
Running during the winter months can put you at risk of injury if you aren’t careful because your workout surface is often a slippy, slidy, unstable snowy mess.
Make Sure You Have Right Equipment: Marketing of shoes and sports equipment can cause a lot of confusion that all too often leads to injury if you choose something based on hype instead of what works for you. Remember also, that shoes should be replaced every 6 months or every 500 miles (800km).
For sports other than running, the right equipment can help to keep you injury free. Helmets, gloves, padding are all designed to keep you safe. Make sure you get the help of a professional to make sure you’ve got the best equipment for you and your sport.
Include Cross Training:
Cross training will help you to manage potential muscular imbalances that can occur because of specializing in one sport exclusively. For all athletes, cross training should mean including strength and flexibility training in their programs.
Recovery is Key: It is normal to have muscle soreness for up to 48 hours after a bout of exercise. This is known as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS).
Using an ice bath or ice packs after your workouts will greatly reduce this DOMS discomfort as will stretching post workout.
In your training you should plan such that you have at least 48 hours of recovery in between your hard workouts. If you feel pain that lasts longer than 48 hours and it’s not getting better, you should get it checked.
Athletic injuries are a part of participating in sport but it is definitely possible to enjoy your athletic pursuits while keeping your chances of injury as low as possible.
So, get out there and get moving! Your body will be much happier if you do.