Prevention is the best Medicine

Provided by: Australian Physiotherapy Association 

With the winter sports season well and truly underway, physiotherapists are treating an array of sprains, strains and other injuries befalling athletes and fitness lovers across Australia.

Even if you feel like you’re in top shape, an injury might not be far away. But what if you could predict and prevent injuries before they happen?

A sports physiotherapy assessment and a preventive exercise plan could keep you on your feet and injury free, because physiotherapists can identify the risks and offer ‘prehabilitation’ – corrective training techniques and exercises to reduce injury risk before it happens.

In fact, it’s not so different to going to a dentist or doctor for regular checkups. Everyone has their own set of weaknesses, flexibility issues and movement incongruities. A physiotherapist can assess your posture, core stability muscle strength and flexibility, joint alignment and mobility and incorrect movement patterns and provide useful tips and techniques to ensure you’re doing things correctly.

Prehabilitation would be useful for those who are new to exercise, planning to intensify their exercise routine, or returning to exercise following illness, injury or pregnancy. A physiotherapist will take into account your lifestyle and daily activities to help safeguard your body.

In the meantime, make sure you follow guidelines for keeping yourself safe while exercising in colder weather by following some physio approved ‘top tips’.

Top tips to prevent sports injuries

Warming up made easy

Preparing your body for exercise is one of the most effective ways to prevent injuries.

To properly prepare your body for exercise, you should commence the exercise you’re about to undertake at a slow pace. Try a slow jog before running or a gentle cycle before you hit the bike track.

Follow this with some sports-specific movements relevant to the activity you’re about to perform. Try side stepping for soccer, swinging your legs for AFL or squats for snowboarding.

Stay on the ball

Knees and ankle injuries are very common amongst AFL, rugby and soccer players. Aim to build the following moves into your preparation:

  • Lunge walk – Move forwards with your legs in a long, exaggerated stride pattern. Keep your upper body straight but move your arms in time with your legs.
  • Side stepping / sideways running – This movement will help to stretch the hips and inner thighs.
  • Running backwards – Carefully running backwards can help prepare the quad and calf muscles before you begin to play.
  • Buttock kicks – At slow jogging pace, bring your heels up to meet your bottom.

On the run

Knee, ankle and foot injuries are common amongst runners. In addition to your cardiovascular warm up, try the following:

  • Lunge walk – Move forwards with your legs in a long, exaggerated stride pattern. Keep your upper body straight but move your arms in time with your legs.
  • Buttock kicks – At slow jogging pace, bring your heels up to meet your bottom.
  • Controlled leg swings – Standing on your left leg swing your right leg backwards and forwards in a controlled manner. Swap legs.
  • Fast feet – Stand with your feet together, and then lift them quickly off the floor one after the other as if running over hot coals.

Pedal power

Knee and lower back problems are common amongst cyclists. Before you get on your bike, jog on the spot, jump from side to side, lunge forwards and back and then try the following move while lying on the floor:

  • Bring your knees up towards your chest and perform slow paced pedalling movements with your legs.
  • Once you’re on your bike begin pedalling at a moderate pace, increasing speed and intensity until you reach your desired pace.

Don’t forget to cool down

Taking the time to cool down after exercise is important. Cooling down helps remove waste products from your muscles, which can result in muscle soreness, and prepares your body for your next exercise session.

Cool down by gradually slowing the pace and effort you’re putting into your chosen form of exercise. Keep going at this reduced pace for five to ten minutes. Another option is to slow jog, brisk walk, or march on the spot for the same length of time.

 

If you’d like further advice on warm ups, exercising safely with an existing injury or health condition, and prehabilitation management plans seek the advice of an APA physiotherapist or go to www.choose.physio. You can also follow the Australian Physiotherapy Association on Facebook (@AustralianPhysiotherapyAssociation), Twitter (@APAphysio) or Instagram (@physioaustralia).

 

 

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