Injuries are never ideal for athletes, sportspeople or even just a part-time gym goer. It can set us back on our plans, make sleeping awkward and more often than not, just feel incredibly uncomfortable. Unfortunately however, injuries are inevitable at some point in our lives for one reason or another, but the good news is; it is possible to reduce the risk of obtaining injuries through correct understanding and practice.
Injuries can occur most often from poor movement patterns, daily bad habits and from contact sports. The length and severity of injuries can be affected by age, fitness level, training age, mobility (or lack thereof) and our environment, among other things. Rugby players for example, may be more likely to incur a contact injury when going in for a tackle, compared to a tennis who may tend to suffer overuse injuries since they tend to play in only ones or twos. In a similar vain, a beginner to the gym must be careful as to how they move and lift certain weights - their muscles will not be conditioned in the same way that an olympic lifter would be.
Now this may be the point at which sceptics would suggest "sports are bad for you... all they do is create injury"... I beg to differ, and I think so would many other personal trainers and fitness instructors. From my point of view, I aim to create programmes and classes for my clients that improve the way in which they move, providing chances of longevity within exercise, meaning hopefully they can exercise late into old age, with minimal risk of injury. It starts by me teaching you correct movement patterns, and showing you stretching/mobilising techniques that will help to undo tight muscles from everyday life. I see it more often now (and the topic has come up several times in my recent blog posts) that we spend too much time sitting and not enough time moving. Even for those who have more active jobs, it's about ensuring you move effectively and safely.
With regards to age, it should be understood that in general, you'll take longer to recover from an injury than a younger person would. Despite this, you could also argue that athletes too young for certain sports may incur overuse injuries or growth-related injuries, especially for children that specialise early on in a sport (we'll save the Long-Term Athletic Development discussion for another day) - there are very few sports that children should specialise in when they're young.
Those who are new to sports or the gym should be encouraged to work through a suitable progressive gym plan - going straight to lifting heavy weights or being expected to run several kilometres is unrealistic and will more likely result in problems (note that when looking for a PT they should work through basic movement patterns with you first and perform fitness assessments in order to see where to start). Even those who have trained before should be regressed back a little to check techniques, as previous injuries may flair up again if training is not well thought out.
You may even find in some cases, that injuries occur from over-training; an athlete becomes exhausted and might make silly mistakes or feel muscle fatigue. It it the job of a strength and conditioning coach to structure training plans in a safe way that allow for recovery weeks... sometimes even just listening to the body tells us when we need to take things a little easier for a few days. Not every single session has to have you dripping with sweat and gasping for breath.
As much as we can include safe practice and training techniques into our plans, there are occasionally injuries that will still occur without meaning to. Contact sports are often the biggest culprit of injuries of this nature, but you may also consider injuries around the home. Moving furniture when redecorating and lifting something awkwardly; overusing a computer mouse or smartphone and creating bad habits or muscle strains; taking a tumble on a night out after a few too many drinks... we all know someone with a story like that!
I guess that what I'm trying to say is, injuries are inevitable at one point or another in our lives. However, the way that we move - or work to improve our movements - can make a great difference in our chances of getting injured. Safe to say, whether you are looking to start training from scratch or looking to improve within your sporting field, it can be worth getting in touch with a personal trainer, or strength and conditioning coach. We can help to guide you in a safe and effective manner, and will keep an eye out for those little bad habits that may have crept in during work hours or repetitive lifestyles. Injury reduction is the way forward, and can contribute to healthy, happy lifestyles... enquire today or shoot over some questions!