Watching events such as the Flora London Marathon and Great North Run can be the inspiration that makes you decide to get fit. However, don’t let your Marathon inspired enthusiasm to get fit lead to you overdoing it, as this can result in an injury. Injuries are one of the main reasons that people give up regular exercise, so we have produced a quick guide to staying injury free.
1 – Start Off Slow
The tissues of the body, such as tendons, muscles, skin and joints need to adapt to the demands that exercise is putting on them. Starting at a high intensity will overload the tissues and lead to injury. Start your workouts at a low level and gradually build up to allow time for your body to adapt.
2 – Use the Correct Equipment
Make sure you use required safety equipment and make sure you replace it if it’s no longer fit for purpose. Ensure that any equipment is the correct size and fits comfortably. Shoes are probably the most important piece of kit. Make sure they are appropriate for your activity.
3 – Respect your Environment
If weather conditions are particularly bad, then cancel outdoor activities. Excessive rain or a frost can make conditions treacherous under foot, leading to slips, falls and injury. Rather than take a risk it is best to be flexible with your fitness plan always have an indoor alternative, just in case.
4 – Warm Up
A warm up is intended to raise the body temperature and prepare a person to take part in an exercise activity. Warming up allows muscles and tendons to become more extensible. Research has suggested that this decreases the incidence of muscle and tendon injuries.
5 – Pay Attention to Diet
Maintain a healthy balanced diet. This means reducing fat intake, increasing intake of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants by eating at least 5 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables per day. A lack of muscle energy can lead to muscle fatigue and increase the likelihood of muscle strain. Increased energy requirements for exercise that lasts 90 minutes or more can be satisfied by increasing carbohydrate intake prior to the activity.
6 – Stay Hydrated
Adjust water intake depending on the weather conditions. Tea, coffee and alcohol intake should be minimised as these substances are diuretics that lead to dehydration. Dehydrated body tissues are much less elastic and don’t absorb the stresses of exercise so well. By exercising when dehydrated the likelihood of developing an overuse injury is increased.