7 Injury Prevention Strategies

Sleep

Sleep is often the most overlooked factor when considering injury prevention.  Sleep is without question the number one strategy for staying healthy in all respects and these days we get less and less of it.  Consider the average Ironman athlete who is juggling full time work with a family and 20+ hours of training per week.  No wonder we have become a nation addicted to caffeine!

Among other things sleeps primary function is to allow recovery on all levels.  Sleep is a heightened anabolic state, accentuating the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems. It is observed in all mammals, all birds, and many reptiles, amphibians, and fish.  So if you’re not getting enough sleep this is the first place to start if you want to avoid injury or illness.

Nutrition

People don’t often make the connection between nutrition and injury prevention but it might be one of the most crucial factors to consider.  Training involves a systematic breakdown of the body both physically and mentally.  Endurance sports (stress) triggers the release of cortisol, a catabolic hormone (meaning it breaks down molecules into smaller units).  We need cortisol to help metabolize sugars fats and proteins but it also suppresses the immune system and decreases bone formation.  Cortisol has the opposite effect of sleep by creating a catabolic (opposite of anabolic) state in the body.

If we don’t replace what we have lost after a training session it can be a recipe for injury.  What we ingest provides the building blocks for restoration.  This includes everything from water to solid food and of course supplementation.  We need to provide a steady flow of macro and micronutrients to allow for this recovery and effectively prevent injury.

Get a Coach

If you are considering tackling any kind of sport one of the best things you can do is employ the expertise of a good coach.  Endurance athletes in particular have a tendency to overdo it on a regular basis.  The “more is better” philosophy seems to be ingrained in our psyche not matter how flawed it actually is.  A good coach will offer two things.  First and foremost, smart planning.  A good coach will structure a program to allow for periods of work and periods of recovery and if it’s done properly your body will adapt and get stronger after each load.  Secondly, a good coach offers an objective look at how you are actually doing.  Sometimes it’s tough to make smart calls on your own.  A good coach can see what’s happening from outside of your “box” and help you make the right call when your body is breaking down.

Great Technique

Sports by nature are very repetitive.  Endurance sports in particular lend themselves mainly to overuse injuries.  Overuse injuries can be caused by too much of a good thing or simply poor technique.  Proper biomechanics and technique are critical when you are repeating movements over and over again.  It’s important to consider technique all the way up the chain from your feet to your upper body.  Take cycling for example.  Not only is it important to learn how to pedal properly but it’s also crucial to be set up on your bike and in your shoes in such a way to allow you to pedal properly.  How your feet interact with the shoe and pedal is as important as the actual training.  Technical practice is as important as energy system practice.

Be Cross Fit- Be Athletic

Endurance sports have a nasty habit of getting people moving in one plane and in very fixed positions.  Sports such as running and biking require a more or less fixed position whereby the legs and arms move linearly with very little variation.  Counter balancing these movements with alternate exercises is very important when considering injury prevention.  It’s important to work opposing muscle groups on a regular basis.  In the off-season one strategy is to become cross fit.  Try different activities that challenge you muscularly.  When you are in-season make sure you pay some attention to opposing muscle groups so you don’t overdevelop your prime movers.

Good Pain vs. Bad Pain

The expression “listen to your body” is used regularly but what does it actually mean?  When considering injury prevention it means everything.  It means acquiring the ability to know the difference between good pain and bad pain.

Discomfort is necessary in sport in order to move to higher levels of performance,  we need good pain.  Good pain occurs with normal physical exertion and includes things like increased breathing rate, lactic acid build up and muscle fatigue.

Bad pain is anything that doesn’t feel “right” and can often be pinpointed directly as in “it hurts here”.  Bad pain is anything that causes us to move out of our normal range of motion or biomechanical pattern in order to compensate for the pain.

The best athletes know when to push through good pain and when to recognize and heed the signs of bad pain.

Use an injury prevention specialist

Believe it or not there are professions that specialize in recovery and injury prevention.  Massage therapists, Physiotherapists, Chiropractors and Yoga instructors are all examples of professionals in the recovery and injury prevention business.  Massage therapy for example increases blood flow to muscle groups, which provide oxygen and nutrients that help repair damaged tissues.  Chiropractors focus on the spine and nerve pathways to make sure you are firing properly.  Physiotherapy focuses on maintaining proper movement and function  throughout the body.  Yoga is a form of physical and meditative practice that has been used for its restorative properties for thousands of years.  So when considering injury prevention, remember that you can and should seek the advice of a professional.


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  1. 7 Injury Prevention Strategies | 7SYSTEMS Endurance Sports Supplement | Injury Prevention Said

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    May 7th, 2011 at 3:10 am

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