1. Manage the load Load refers to the volume or intensity of the stress that we put on our body. Many sports injuries could be prevented by better controlling the load placed on our body. One of the biggest mistakes is increasing load too quickly and not allowing time for the body to adapt. e.g. not running for 3 months and then running 15km because that’s what you used to be able to do. Instead, start with a 3-5km run and gradually increase the distance each week. Tendons are particularly slow to adapt and consequently, tendon problems are often one of the first injuries after a sudden increase in load.
2. Recovery time Rest and recovery is an important factor in preventing injury. Injuries often happen when we are tired or unwell. It is important to monitor how you feel and adjust your activity levels accordingly. In addition to this, our body can only get fitter and stronger when we rest and let it recover from the training load. Without recovery time you are just continuously breaking the body down further with each training session.
3. Strength training A strength and conditioning program can reduce the incidence of many injuries and also helps improve performance. This can consist of 2-3 sessions per week of gym or home based strengthening exercises. Look to target the key areas involved in your sport, e.g. single leg strength exercises for running/ running based sports, rotator cuff strengthening exercises for swimming.
4. Monitor your footwear and wear what is suitable for you. Footwear can have a big influence on the movement in your legs and lower back. Research suggests that shoes should be changed every 6 months or 500-800km, but this can depend on a number of factors. Footwear style is also specific to each person. There has been a great deal of research into the best footwear for different foot types however it can ultimately be summarised as “wear a shoe that is comfortable”!