How to get better results by preventing injury

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Running (steady state) 

Common injuries: Repetitive strain or overuse injuries, which can be caused by going too hard too fast, wearing poorly fitting or inappropriate footwear, muscle imbalances or gait pattern. The most common long-distance running injuries are Achilles tendinopathy, runners’ knee (iliotibial friction syndrome or ITBS) and shin splints (geek term: medial tibial stress syndrome or MTSS).   

Prevention: Ensure that your footwear is supportive and designed to suit your foot and the activity. Complement your running with foam rolling, stretching and strength and mobility exercises to maximise your condition and seek advice from a coach or exercise physiologist so your training is tailored to your experience, goals and gait. 

Running (HIIT)

Common injuries: The explosive movement can lead to greater incidence of muscle strains, particularly to the hamstrings and quadriceps. Severe cases can result in the muscle being torn from the bone, requiring surgical repair while mild cases may feel more like the muscle is tight or tired and will recover quickly with rest. 

Prevention: A solid warm-up to prepare for high explosive loading.

Signs you need to stop

It’s not hard to tell delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) from bad pain. DOMS is triggered by moving muscles and subsides within 72 hours. If pain persists at rest or beyond 72 hours after training, seek expert advice before performing another workout.

If particular movements make you wince or are inhibited by pain, you may have an underlying issue that needs addressing to prevent a serious injury. Areas of redness, heat, or generalised joint stiffness can also signal that something is wrong.

Rest manifesto

Rest is as important as exercise. When you are really overtired, sore, stressed and fatigued, take a break and try to maintain a variety of exercise types and loads to challenge your body in different ways.  Stress can lead to increased injury risk.  While exercise is a proven stress reliever, cortisol and increased muscle tension can promote inflammation and increase injury risk. Prioritise warm-ups, which should be specific to the imminent exercise, and ease into workouts to avoid further stressing the body. Complement training with yoga or meditation and ensure adequate nutrition and hydration. You can also use yoga as active recovery on ‘rest’ days. 

Avoid scheduling heavy strength or power sessions on consecutive days unless your goal is to improve your ability to exercise under fatigue.

Exercise should be for enjoyment, not punishment, and sometimes we get the most improvement when we allow our bodies to rest and recover.

Discover more ways to prevent injury in the October 2016 edition of Women’s Health and Fitness Magazine.

NEXT: Want to improve your running technique? Here are 7 tips to help you improve your posture and stride.