The sun is shining and the weather is warming up so there’s no better time to get motivated and back into sport or exercise. Whether you are embarking on a new fitness venture or if you’re a seasoned sportsperson being active and participating in physical exercise is a great way to keep your body and mind healthy. However, increasing activity may also increase the risk of injury. While a sports injury can never be entirely prevented, there are a few easy steps that can be taken to help reduce the risk.
Warming up properly is one of the most important aspects of any exercise regime in preventing injury. The aim of a warm up is to raise total body temperature and muscle temperature to prepare the body for vigorous activity, and prepare multiple body systems such as cardiovascular, respiratory and musculoskeletal for the increased demand that strenuous exercise will place on those systems. If the body is pre-prepared, it is much less likely injuries will occur. So what’s the best way to warm up?
- General warm up. 5 minutes of light or very low intensity activity such as walking, jogging or cycling. Make large controlled circular movements with your arms to warm up the upper body.
- Once you have spent 5 minutes doing a general warm up, stretching is a great way to loosen the muscles. Stretching when cold may lead to a tear so only perform after a general warm up.
- Perform the sport at a lower pace. One of the best ways to warm up is to perform the sport or exercise at a lower intensity, this may include a slow swim before moving to a fast speed, catching exercises for cricketers or shoulder rolls and side stepping for tennis players.
Using protective equipment and correct footwear
Some sports or exercises you’re participating in come with recommended protective equipment, and if they do then ensure you use it. This is especially important if the sport or activity involves physical contact with other players or possible contact with hard objects. Choosing the correct footwear is also crucial in injury prevention as shoes designed specifically for certain sports provide the required support to the foot and ankle. Wearing appropriate footwear and properly fitting shoes helps provide stability and shock absorption. If you are unsure what type of footwear you should be wearing for your chosen sport or exercise contact your local sports podiatrist for an expert opinion.
No matter if you are exercising in cool or warmer weather, it is important to keep your body hydrated. Dehydration can significantly reduce physical fitness and dramatically increase your risk of injury. Keep a water bottle handy and refill when needed.
Just as important as the warm up phase, cooling down at the end of the session or game drastically reduces injury risk. After a loss or at the end of a tough work out it’s easy just to throw on your jacket and head home to relax but by skipping this important stage you could cause harm to many areas of your body. 5-10 minutes of gentle exercise allows your heart rate to return to normal, helps to flush out lactic acid and fills tired muscles with oxygen and nutrients. This will help prevent stiff and achy muscles and lead to a quicker and easier recovery.
With over 40 years’ experience, The Walking Clinic is the number one trusted podiatry clinic in Canberra. Specialising in sports injuries and sports podiatry our highly trained staff offer the highest quality podiatric care and treatment. With three convenient locations across Canberra, rest assured your feet will be in great hands. Contact us today to book an appointment.