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Academic’s tips to prevent exercise-related injury

Many people have been inspired to emerge from lockdown several pounds lighter or at least fitter, as evidenced by the numbers of joggers and cyclists out and the tens of thousands taking part in online workouts.  However, those ambitions if not approached with the right preparation and equipment can be a recipe for injury.  Dr Darren Cooper, Principal Lecturer in Sports Therapy, has some helpful hints in this piece about how best to up your exercise while lowering the risk of injury:

Prevention is best

Exercising is extremely beneficial for a healthy body and mind.  Everyone is well aware of that and one thing we should look to address is preventing injury wherever possible.

Lots of people will be dusting off running shoes, bikes and helmets and getting back outside which is great, but it is worth considering that everything has a ‘use by date’ and whilst we don’t want to put anyone off undertaking exercise, if you are running in trainers that are too old you could be putting yourself at a far greater risk of injury, this video Youtube video explains more. Here is another video from Global Triathlon Network that is useful for guiding you through the myriad of options around new running shoes. Whilst cost is a key consideration for us all, there are some things that are well worth investing in and I believe running shoes is definitely one of them.

As cycling is booming everyone should be undertaking the basic safety checks before every ride. The Global Cycling Network have a handy Youtube video and others to aid with simple repair jobs, and taking a simple repair kit (puncture kit or inner tube, tyre levers, pump and multi-tool) as a puncture or brake failure can be incredibly frustrating and cause significant injury if you are unfortunate enough to crash as said component fails. However, there are further aspects to consider such as ‘how old is your helmet?’ it is recommended that you change your helmet every two-three years (guidance). Over the past week whilst riding around the Malvern’s I have seen some 1990’s specials and even one person wearing the helmet back to front! If you are unfortunate enough to crash then you need your helmet to do it’s job and if it is 10 years old, it will not be able to do it, as well as it should and your head is well worth protecting properly.

Finally, something that is not equipment related – stretching and mobility work, we all know we should do it, we never do enough of it and it’s something that only ‘costs’ time. A warm-up, including a pulse raiser and some dynamic stretching before a work out and a cool down with static stretching after a workout is a well-accepted method to reduce the likelihood of injury. The specifics all depend on what exercise you are undertaking and your fitness level, many professional endurance athletes for example, don’t ‘feel warm’ until the second hour, but not everyone is an elite athlete and as such there is no binding commitment to exercise every day, so if one day your body just doesn’t feel like it, but you force it to and a few minutes in it is really struggling then feel free to stop, listen to your body, stretch, hydrate and recover ready for the next day.

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