Injuries often occur when people suddenly increase the duration, intensity, or frequency of their activities. Many soft-tissue injuries can be prevented through proper conditioning, training, and equipment. Other prevention tips include:
- Use proper equipment. Replace your athletic shoes as they wear out. Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothes that let you move freely and are light enough to release body heat.
- Balanced fitness. Develop a balanced fitness program that incorporates cardiovascular exercise, strength training, and flexibility. Add activities and new exercises cautiously. Whether you have been sedentary or are in good physical shape, do not try to take on too many activities at one time. It is best to add no more than one or two new activities per workout.
- Warm up. Warm up to prepare to exercise, even before stretching. Run in place for a few minutes, breathe slowly and deeply, or gently rehearse the motions of the exercise to follow. Warming up increases your heart and blood flow rates and loosens up other muscles, tendons, ligaments, and joints.
- Drink water. Drink enough water to prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Have a drink of water every 20 minutes or so while you exercise.
- Cool down. Make cooling down the final phase of your exercise routine. It should take twice as long as your warm up. Slow your motions and lessen the intensity of your movements for at least 10 minutes before you stop completely. This phase of a safe exercise program should conclude when your skin is dry and you have cooled down.
- Stretch. Begin stretches slowly and carefully until reaching a point of muscle tension. Hold each stretch for 10 to 20 seconds, then slowly and carefully release it. Inhale before each stretch and exhale as you release. Do each stretch only once. Never stretch to the point of pain, always maintain control, and never bounce on a muscle that is fully stretched.
- Rest. Schedule regular days off from vigorous exercise and rest when tired. Fatigue and pain are good reasons to not exercise.
- Avoid the “weekend warrior” syndrome. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day. If you are truly pressed for time, you can break it up into 10-minute chunks.
Whether an injury is acute or due to overuse, if you develops symptoms that persist, contact your physiotherapist.