Injury Prevention Guide
- Load management
- Active recovery
- Balanced training regime
- Mobility & Stability
- Build Strength / Fatigue Resistance
Warm Ups are called warm-ups for a reason! They are designed to prepare your body for exercise, and like all things, the better prepared you are, the better result you will get.
Warm-ups are designed to gradually increase body temperature, increase the blood flow and therefore improve range of motion. Think of it like the foundation to building a house. If you don’t get the structure and framework right, the house is going to collapse. Similar in the case of our bodies.
No warm-ups won’t get you 6 pack abs, what they will do though is prepare your body for an exercise that will, allowing you to work more efficiently and achieve a much better result. Without proper warm-up injuries are inevitable. A
good warmup will improve upper and lower body mobility and diminish the effects of DOMS, allowing you to train harder, recover faster and move better.
Some great warm-up exercises include:
- MYOFASCIAL RELEASE – otherwise known as foam rolling or self-massage. Grab a roller and start rolling out either your pecs, thoracic spine and lats (upper body work and Olympic lifts) and/or your glutes, quads and calves (lower body work). Ideally, you want to spend approx 30 seconds on each area, not too long
- DYNAMIC STRETCHES – are designed to increase the range of motion throughout the joint. Ideally, you will pick a movement at a lower grade or weight to what you will perform during the working sets
- BAND WORK – resistance band exercises are a great way to prepare movement patterns. Start with banded pull downs, glute bridges and crab walks to increase muscle activation.
- CNS – activating the central nervous system is a key component of any warm up. Plyometric exercises such as box jumps, overhead squats and pushups are a great way to start increasing blood flow to the muscle before a load is added
- WARM UP SETS – when working with weight be sure to complete 2-3 warm up sets before reaching your working weight. Ideally, you should perform 4 warm up sets, increasing the weight as you go until you have reached maximum weight or true working weight for the required rep scheme.
Another simple way to reduce or prevent injury is managing training load. When we talk about soft tissue injuries (injuries to muscles, tendons and ligaments) Injury occurs when they receive a stress or load that they are not accustomed to.
It is also important to take into consideration the fact that different exercises place different stressors on the body and therefore the exercise you choose can either increase or decrease injury risk.
- Insufficient Challenge
When we don’t challenge the tissues enough a detraining effect occurs. Our soft tissues need to be challenged! The key is to find the sweet spot between overtraining and overstressing the tissues, and not giving them enough stimulation. That sweet spot is different for every person and it’s important to listen to your body, challenge it, then make adaptations according to its response. As we get older it is more important than ever to be challenging these structures.
When you quickly increase the load or stress placed on these tissues beyond their capacity, they do not have the resilience to adapt to these new challenges fast enough. Your goal should be long-term tissue health, which requires smaller, more frequent increases in load and volume to allow adaptation. Generally, a good rule of thumb is to increase your load no more than 10% each week you train.
Some load management mistakes!
- Not adequately prepared/warmed up
- Increasing workload too quickly
- The weekly load is too high
- Training loads are not adjusted daily
- Training is not fun
When you make these common load management mistakes staleness and injury occur. If you have an event you are training for, or simply want some guidance in managing the injury, speak to the qualified physios at iMOVE Miranda to come and speak with us here at KMJ.
Now resting is just as important as training for injury prevention. However, there are a few misconceptions as to how the body can recover.
Passive recovery (sitting on the couch, watching movies etc) does little to restore and repair the damage done to your tissues throughout the week in training. The key is to get the TISSUES themselves to relax, and that is much harder than you might think.
Active recovery or low-intensity exercises focus on correcting muscle symmetry, postural control, core strength and self-myofascial release. The aim here is to keep lubricating the joints, whilst not placing any additional STRESS on them. Not only does them help the structures recover from damage, it also helps them adapt, which is where your training goals are formed.
So you’ve heard the term, train hard, recover harder? Well, that’s very true. If you approach training like an athlete, you should approach recovery like one as well.
Active Recovery – Movement
An active recovery session should consist of:
- Self-myofascial release with a foam roller, covering most if not all areas of the body. Try to spend between 30-60 seconds on each area
- Dynamic or biphasic stretching – these should be dynamic, not static movement taking the joint through its range of motion
- A flow sequence such as a yoga flow routine to lengthen and relieve the spine
- Low-intensity cardiovascular exercise such as a 20-40 min walk
Remember the goal is not to overstress the body here so weight training on an active recovery day should be avoided.
Nutrition is crucially important to your recovery from training. Getting the proper balance of nutrition pre and post-training not only affects your results from training in the short term but also the long-term effects on your health. Adequate nutrition can ward off overtraining and burnout in those who have been training for long periods of time.
Probably the most important recovery strategy is arguable to sleep. It is where the brain and body restore and repair. Reducing sleep by just 1-2 hours per night can dramatically increase your risk of injury. Aim for 6-8 hours minimum per night and you have your first and easiest recovery strategy sorted!
Balanced Training Regime
Having a balanced training regime is not only crucial for injury prevention, it is also crucial for optimal performance. Now while most of us have one dominant side over the other, if there is too much of a difference in limb strength/weaknesses, that’s when compensation starts to occur.
A great way to combat imbalance in a training regime is with unilateral training. When doing these exercises start with the weaker side first. After working that side to fatigue, do the same number of reps on the stronger side. While your stronger side won’t be working till fatigue, you will be bringing the weaker side up to meet it, eventually creating symmetry.
Improving core strength and stability when doing unilateral exercises will help combat the feeling of being off balance that single limb work creates. Focusing on engaging and pulling back the deep stabilising muscles of the core.
Women tend to have stronger quadriceps and weaker hamstrings than men, which is probably why they have a higher rate of knee injury.
Why is this so?
Well, women generally speaking have a wider pelvis so their femur (thigh bones) are placed at a sharper angle from hip to knee, causing greater instability. Women also tend to have more laxity in their ligaments, which particularly affects the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament). Our hormones also play an important role in our susceptibility to injury. Women are more susceptible to injury during different phases of the menstrual cycle, particularly when estrogen levels are highs.
So how can you overcome this?
The best way to protect your knees is to both strengthen and stretch your hips. The key is to find the right balance between both. It’s also important to do some plyometric (jumping) exercises and balance training.
Exercises you can do:
- Leg presses
- Leg curls
- Glute bridges / hip extension
- Squat jumps
- Locking the knees in any position
- Downhill running/walking
- Cycling with the seat too high or too much resistance
If you do get knee pain, it best to consult a physio prior to commencing an exercise regime
Mobility & Stability
To keep the body healthy and injury free we need to first break the body down into each of its joints on the mobility continuum. The joints have a pattern that goes back and forth between mobility and stability.
FOOT – stability
ANKLE – mobility
KNEE – stability
HIP – mobility
LUMBAR SPINE – stability
THORACIC SPINE – mobility
SCAPULA – stability
GLENOHUMERAL (shoulder) JOINT – mobility
ELBOW – stability
This joint by joint approach give you a basic understanding of the movement requirement of each joint, however, each individual is different.
Some people might be very mobile in their hips, and would, therefore, require more stability in other joints. In the same way that another individual might be excessively stiff and need more mobility their other joints.
BUT… unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Let’s take the knee for example, according to the joint by joint approach it needs stability. This is true, but if the knee has restricted mobility with flexion and extension, then this would increase you injury risk.
A better way to understand the knee is that it needs stability in the front and side (think anterior and medial cruciate ligaments) and mobility through the ranges of flexion and extension.
Learning and executing correct technique and form when it comes to weight training is specifically important. If you are performing lifts incorrectly, you are leaving yourself susceptible to injuries such as sprains, strains and fractures.
The do’s and don’ts!
- Lift an appropriate amount of weight
- Use proper form
- Seek balance
- Skip your warm-up
- Overdo it
- Work through the intense pain
- Forget your shoes!
Build Strength & Fatigue Resistance
Fatigue, when we are referring to injury prevention is simply an imbalance between the demands of an activity and the body’s capacity to perform the task. Long-term fatigue greatly increases your risk of injury.
So why do our muscles fatigue when we train, and how does that cause injury?
Well simply put, the amount of force you can generate is less, you become slower and less efficient at movement and are only able to perform the exercise in a limited range of motion.
Let’s look at this concept a little closer. So you have been going the gym 3 times a week for the last few months and have decided to step it up a little, increasing to 5 days a week. Now this is not a problem if you have a balanced training plan (see point number 4), however if you are adding 2 days of extra high intensity, high volume training then chances are after a few weeks you will start to feel slower when lifting the weight, like you can’t keep up with the rest of the group and that you are pulling up stiffer than normal after every session.
Fatigue & staleness start to kick in as your body has not built up enough fatigue resistance to handle the new capacity of work that is being placed on it.
So how can you overcome this?
Well if we continue with the example above, try adding load to your 3 sessions a week before increasing frequency. That way your body is having time to recover between sessions and likely adapting better to the new load that is placed on it.
If you are nursing an injury, think you might be overtraining, or just generally want some guidance with a weight training program then get in contact with us!