Preventing injuries this winter
By far the most common injuries in athletes that come in to the office are those of overuse of certain body parts. These injuries include sprains, strains, tendonitis, and stress fractures. Many of these injuries could have been prevented by simple changes made to a person’s workout routine. I would like to share some of my tips for athletes coming to see me in the office that might help you avoid overuse injuries this winter.
- Warm up – The benefit of a quick 10-15 minute warm up can help you avoid muscle strains and tears. I recommend doing a low-impact, dynamic warm up like cycling, walking or jogging, or an elliptical machine to get your heart rate up and improve circulation and flexibility to the muscles you are about to work out.
- Stay hydrated – It is important to keep yourself hydrated to not only prevent injury and dehydration, but also to maximize your performance. Start by drinking some fluid 30 minutes prior to your exercise routine, as well as taking breaks to be sure you rehydrate with about 8 oz. of fluid at least every 20 minutes during any intense exercise routine. This will keep your performance at maximal levels while helping to protect you from injury.
- Rest – This means getting proper sleep at night as well as taking dedicated days to rest usually at least once per week from training to allow your body to recover from the stress of exercise. Even professional athletes take days of rest, realizing the importance of not overtraining, and we should too. Many of the overuse injuries that I see in the clinic could have been prevented by employing rest days into an exercise regimen.
- Listen to your body – Pain while exercising is often an indicator that the body is being pushed too far or too fast. The majority of injuries happen when someone increases their exercise activity from previous levels. Unfortunately, many people will ignore pain during this period of time to their own detriment. If you are having pain during or after exercising, stop that activity and evaluate why you are having the pain. I advise people to rest until the pain decreases and start back slowly with a lower level of activity to try and build your exercise tolerance back up. If the pain persists, an evaluation by a physician may be necessary to diagnose the problem and develop a treatment plan to get you back to your exercise routine safely.
- Mix it up – Doing the same repetitive exercises day after day is a recipe for an overuse injury you do not want to follow. So switch up your exercises, try new ones, and get some variety in your routine. If you need help, ask a personal trainer for some advice. You will be more excited by your workouts, and you will avoid coming to see someone like me in the office.
- Stretch – I put this at the end not because it is the least important, but because that’s where I want you to stretch, at the end of your workouts. Multiple studies show that our muscles are their most flexible and respond best to stretching after exercise. This is where you will get the biggest gains in flexibility, in the cool down stretch, so please give your muscles a few minutes at the end of your workout to stretch out.
I hope this helps you stay at your best and avoid any potential injuries. Be well all!