We exercise for a myriad of reasons. This can include reduction of body fat, weight management, mental health, or just for the overall positive health benefits. However, there are certain injury prevention protocols that should be followed. The last thing any of us wants is prolonged downtime in the form of a preventable injury.
Protocols to Follow
Always WARM UP prior to any exercise activity. Warming up prepares the body and the mind for physical exertion. It increases circulation, loosens ligaments, tendons and muscles and prepares the mind for your physical activity.
I always suggest dynamic stretching during the warm-up with prolonged stretching at the end of a good workout. Dynamic movements prepare the body for exercise. Include stretches for the entire body to avoid injury on injury-prone areas (eg. hamstrings, groin area and the lower back). At the end of each workout, when your muscles are warmer and more pliable, you can move into deeper stretching, while focusing on lengthening by holding stretches longer.
It’s important to know the difference between muscles soreness, a minor twinge or strain, and a more serious injury. Typical muscle soreness is normal and a condition you really want to try to work through. You do this by warming up, light stretching and participating in your workout with maybe light modifications to sore muscle group areas.
If you feel a minor twinge or strain during your workout or during physical activity know that this is a common occurrence. Almost everyone strains or pulls a muscle or one time or another. Typically, you will feel a sharp pain followed by a dull ache. When this happens stop whatever you are doing and end your workout for the day to further avoid injury. Use the PRICE acronym; prevention, rest, ice, compression, elevation are the typical protocol for most minor strains or pulls.
Prevention: Protect an injury from further damage. Do not put excess strain on the injured area until the pain is completely gone.
Rest: Give an injury time to heal. This is very important as many people try to resume routine activity before the injury has healed properly and end up re injuring the area. This in turn creates longer downtime.
Ice: Use ice packs to reduce the pain and inflammation for the first 3 to 5 days after an injury.
Compression: Wrap the injured area if need be to reduce swelling.
Elevation: Elevate the injury above the heart to reduce the flow of blood to the injured area and reduce the swelling as well.
Look Out For
A more serious injury such as a sharp, excruciating snap or pop with continued, localized pain requires greater attention. Injuries like a pulled groin muscle, bad ankle sprain or severe tendinitis need to be addressed immediately by a physiotherapist or medical professional. Stop all exercise that affects an injured area and see a qualified physiotherapist or doctor immediately. A qualified healthl professional can advise you on the extent of the injury and the proper protocol to follow, and provide exercise guidelines and restrictions.
Stay away from weekend warrior mania! It feels great to go back in time and participate in sporting activities you did in your youth. You can still imbibe in these activities, just keep in mind your current age and fitness condition. Don’t try to turn back the clock in one day! There is nothing wrong with participating in sports; however, as you get older it becomes even more important to warm-up properly to avoid injury. Injuries can and do happen, so you don’t need to encourage them.
Lastly, make sure you always cool-down after any exercise session or sporting event. Re-hydrate and give your body some recovery time. Improper cool down can result in greater lactic acid build up and onset muscle soreness. Dehydration and insufficient rest saps you of needed energy.