How to Prevent Pain and Injury
Sometimes we Fitness Freaks over do it and end up injured. That was the case recently with one of “my ladies”, as I call my long-time regular female exercisers. She was in the groove at our weekly two-hour fitness fest when something went wrong and she collapsed in the middle of the class with a knee injury!
- First lesson, she should have listened to her body and taken a night off after her knee had been bothering her all day.
- The second lesson was a good one too, although it might allow her to forget the first. The emergency room doctor said if she hadn’t been a regular exerciser her injury could’ve been worse. It seems the muscles around her knees where strong and probably kept her ligaments from breaking.
I hear this often from people who suffer injuries that could’ve been worse or from people who avoid them all together. I proved it myself the other week. I stepped off the sidewalk onto a sheet of ice masquerading as a parking lot. My bag went flying as I slipped and almost fell hard. My strong core saved me as I automatically regained my balance. I felt validated as I always tell people about the importance of core strength in the wintertime.
Coaches know this well and keep their athletes strong and healthy.
The coaches help athletes prevent an injury by not only building the muscles they need for their sport but also conditioning other areas of the body. Doing this makes the whole body stronger, in better alignment and able to react to sudden stress or pressure.
There is a movement underway to get female athletes, who are three times more prone to knee injuries than males, to strength train the legs and avoid these problems. Like my lady from class, by strengthening the muscles around the knee with lunges and single leg squats among other techniques, it is better able to handle fast and agile movements that put stress on the joints and ligaments.
I have more proof from my own experience of spraining an ankle every year while playing non-competitive sports. Eventually I started core training that included balancing on a core board or a Bosu, both unstable surfaces. The wiggle and wobbling strengthened the muscles and ligaments around my ankle and I noticed the injuries stopped because I wasn’t easily rolling my foot out of alignment.
What are your weakest areas and is that putting you at risk of injury?
Is your posture poor from sitting at a desk all day so that when you go to pick up something heavy you strain your lower back? Strengthen this area by lying on your stomach and lifting your upper body from the ground in slow repetition feeling the lower back engage. Strengthen the upper back in the same position by extending the arms into a “Y” form then, while keeping your head down, lift your arms slightly off the floor in a slow repetition feeling the upper back engage.
Stretching and increasing flexibility can also prevent injury.
If your hamstrings are tight and you have trouble touching your toes it could lead to hip or lower back problems. After exercising or warming up the muscles try lying on your back. While keeping one leg on the floor lift the other leg straight up and place your hands behind your thigh or calf and press gently into your hands as you straighten the knee. You should feel the stretch in the back of your leg. Each time try to lift your leg closer toward your chest increasing your range of motion.
Warming up properly at the beginning of your workout also gets the body ready to avoid injury. Start slow or use light weights to warm up the muscles you’re going to train. Cold tight muscles are not ready for quick or high impact movements.
For most people incorporating an overall body strengthening, cardio and stretching regimen will improve your fitness level thus lowering your risk of injuring yourself in daily activities and exercise. If you’re already exercising a fitness trainer or physical therapist can help determine your weak areas and give advice on exercises to improve them and prevent injury. When starting a new exercise regimen you should always consult your doctor.
Knee Injury prevention for Females: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3702781/
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