How Do I Avoid Injury While Exercising?
Don’t let a preventable injury hold you back from achieving your fitness goals
Are you ready to hit the gym or participate in your sporting activity?
Are you aware of how to get your body ready for exercise and how to actively look after it at the end of the session?
Recent research recommends the use of a dynamic active warm-up prior to exercise and a cool down at the end of your fitness session.
Studies have found that dynamic stretching before exercise helps to increase performance and decrease the potential for injury.
What is Dynamic Stretching?
Dynamic stretching involves a more active warm up. During the warm up joints are taken through their full functional range of motion. These movements are initially performed slowly with a gradual speed increase and with an arc of motion which mimics that of the sporting activity you are about to perform. Dynamic stretching is an exaggerated but controlled movement where the muscle remains active while it is being lengthened.
It is important that dynamic stretching is not confused with ballistic stretching. Ballistic stretching involves trying to force a part of the body beyond its available range of motion in a bouncing or jerking movement. Dynamic Stretching however involves much more controlled movements that are limited to the current range of motion of that particular joint.
How does it work?
Dynamic stretching has been found to provide a positive response to the neuromuscular system. This results in enhancing performance related to force and power production.
What about Static stretching?
There is a growing body of evidence that suggests that warm-up static stretching can actually be detrimental to performance.
Studies have found that Static stretching can actually cause reduced muscle activation, depressed reflex activity, and a diminished maximal force production. When compared to dynamic stretching, static stretching had a negative influence on vertical jump performance. This makes static stretching preferable in the cool down phase as opposed to the warm section of your workout.
Ok, I’m warmed up, now what?
Technique, technique, technique
Once you are warmed up remember to focus on correct technique during your workout or sporting activity. Technique is not only important as it reduces the chance of injury but it actually improves your performance. Good technique enables the muscles to work more efficiently which will ultimately produce more force and strength. Performing good technique also prevents your body from compensating and recruiting other muscles to do the job which can result in an injury.
Finished your workout or activity, now time to head home?
Wrong, don’t forget to cool down!
Cool Down & Recovery
Once you’ve finished your workout it's important to cool down, whether that be active or passive. An active cool down is where the heart rate is slowly decreased over a period of time. Whereas a passive cool-down involves static stretching and the use of the foam rolling.
Evidence suggests that static stretching after a workout, as opposed to before, can help aid recovery and may prevent muscular strains by returning the body to the range of motion it had prior to exercising. Static stretching also decreases neural excitability which results in relaxation and may also help increase blood flow to the muscles which will aid in recovery. Static stretching involves taking a muscle to a point of stretch and then holding this for a period of time, typically 30 seconds, then repeated for a few repetitions.
Foam Rolling may also help prevent injury by helping reduce overall stiffness and muscle soreness. Foam rolling works by releasing the fascia around the muscles which can reduce the feeling of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) by improving circulation to the muscles.
Finally, good nutrition and good sleep are the final important steps to help you stay injury free, so don’t forget to stay hydrated, eat well, and get adequate rest.
If you’re suffering from an injury don’t let it hold you back, contact us today to start feeling better!
Sources: Internal and external sources include but are not limited to scholarly articles, Luke Fuller, H. Gravil, W. Howell, T. Kalbantner, P. Ness, A. Resnicoff, C. Sniteman, C.Swier, T. Elleenbecker, Pre-Competitive Warm-up: the Current Literature Suggests that Dynamic Stretching is Preferential to Static Exercises, J Med Sci Tennis 2012;17(3): 109-117, https://www.sports-injury-physio.com/post/how-do-you-cool-down-after-exercise