Injury Prevention

Injury prevention is one of the most important factors that we need to weave into our fitness routines. It’s very hard to start from a complete stop. And there’s nothing that can bring our fitness routine to a stop like an injury. 

A few years ago, a good friend approached me in the gym and asked why I wasn’t running as much as I used to.

I told him that my knees were bothering me. 

He asked me what I was doing about it. 

Good question.

I did some research, self experimentation, trial & error, and ended up adding some glucousamine and leg lifts to my daily routine. I’ve been happily running ever since.

How many times in life do we accept a false handicap without ever trying to overcome it? I used ‘my knees hurt’ for two years as an iron-clad excuse. How many others are out there allowing their age, an old sports injury, or something else hold them back from what they could be doing? There are many serious injuries that require rest and even surgery, but rest is a temporary prescription and surgery is usually the last resort for only the most severe injuries. For the vast majority of us, it’s worth a little self-evaluation and challenging our condition.

The good news is that the majority of injuries are minor ones and can be addressed with rest, recovery and some physical therapy (stretches & exercises). Below are some stretches and exercises suggestions for some common ailments. Add them to your fitness routine for some injury prevention insurance.

  • Minor foot pain?
    One of the most common running injuries is plantar fascitas which affects the muscles on the bottom of your foot. Overworked and often overlooked, these muscles can get a simple workout by squeezing your toes, as if trying to make a ‘foot fist’ and then slowly releasing. Strengthen these muscles over time and you’ll avoid or recover from this pesky injury.
  • Back pain?
    Crunches and other abdominal muscle work outs can be a great way to take some strain off your back muscles. Back injuries can occur with little to no warning and usually involve a long recovery. A set of crunches a day, may just keep this downtime out of your way.
  • Sore Achilles?
    I recently became a victim of not following my own advice. A few weeks of over-training and no rest and my right calf swelled up. After a few days off, I talked to some friends and did some reading and found a great set of exercises involving one-legged squats, leg-lifts, and lateral stretches. A few weeks later I was running pain-free again, convincing me further that a little rest and strengthening can solve many minor problems. Sometimes the best injury prevention is listening to your body when it says, "REST!"
  • Sore knees?
    Knees can be tricky. With a tendon close-by, the pain could be tendonitis, in which leg strengthening could take some of the strain off. It could be the signs of arthritis or meniscus thinning, in which case Glucosamine / Chondrotin might help you. If the injury is minor, try some simple leg lifts with no weight or ankle weights to see if that helps over time. But as with any injury, your own judgment should prevail as to whether the pain warrants medical attention or self-treatment.

These are just a few ways you can help yourself with injury prevention or recover from a nagging minor fitness ailment. For more information, check out the stretchingbasic exercises and the common injuries pages for more ideas on how to get and stay injury free.

You can find Behind the Scenes and other motivational fitness information in the September 2006 article of The Bullhorn.

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