How to avoid injury

June 15, 2022

When most people think of physiotherapy/sport therapy we think about rehabilitation and injury management. But what if we were able to seek advice before, in order to prevent the onset of any injury occurring? Our role as clinicians is to yes, Rehab but also to Prehab and we should seek to be more Pro-active than Re-active because prevention is better than cure. Once a tissue is injured it forms scar tissue which is never the same as the original, even though it can get back to a high functioning level.

Activity is one of the building blocks for us to achieve a healthy active lifestyle. It’s promoted all the time, everywhere! Whether this is going on a daily walk, gardening, house work, attending an exercise class-it all counts! However, if our bodies are not prepped correctly, they don’t move efficiently as they possibly could or we don’t know how to use the correct muscles for that specific activity then we may well end up injuring ourselves.  

Sometimes we are injured due to trauma which is acute and cannot be predicted but many problems we see are actually overuse injuries- an injury to a structure or tissue sustained from repeated action that our body cannot adapt to- so causing something to eventually fail. These are problems that build up over time, usually with some warning and can often be PREVENTED or at least addressed before they get worse.  

Let’s use lockdown as an example, a time where a lot of people had heaps of free time and many chose to use the time to take up some exercise such as running/home work outs. Some went from no previous running training or exercise experience to smashing out a 5k in one go and perhaps even doing this frequently throughout the week with little rest time. Now, if break down the demands placed on our body and the control our body needs to complete a run-there is no wonder the rates of lower back, hip, knee and ankle injuries went up drastically. During running, we our continuously shifting our whole-body weight through one leg then the other- which is a lot of load being put through our body at one time. We need control over our biomechanics and a good level of strength in our body to ensure we are moving without injury risk.  

Generally, no one has the perfect biomechanics or the perfect body strength so there will always be some compensations present. Even top athletes as they will be working so hard on one particular movement or skill set that something somewhere else in the body would have to take a back seat. Also, we are made very differently! However, there may be certain compensations/weaknesses/limitations- that can place us at a higher risk of injury. With the right guidance and tools, we can identify these and start to work on them before they begin to worsen.

In our movement screen section as part of our health assessment we are screening for those little compensations and weaknesses so that during a class/1:1 we can work on improving them therefore, avoiding injury.

Top tips for avoiding injury:  

  • Prepare the body with a warm-up suitable for the activity you will be doing.
  • Take that a step further and prepare your body daily-even on rest days with a short mobility/stretch routine
  • Cool downs- bring heart rate down/nervous system down to normal
  • Rest periods and days
  • Correct clothing/footwear
  • Ask to be shown how to use new bits of equipment safely
  • Don’t stay in the same position for too long e.g., desk working all day with little movement
  • Progressively overloading your training
  • Learn what the correct technique should be  
  • Use a mirror for feedback to ensure you are practising the right technique
  • Stay hydrated!

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