How to Avoid Injury as an Active Adult
Here at FFC, we are all about preventing injury. We recognize how debilitating and truly frustrating injuries can be. Not only are they painful, but injuries are also disruptive. They make it harder to do everyday tasks as you usually do. They also reduce your ability to be as active as you desire or do the things that you love. Being restricted from things that bring you joy has the potential to lead to mild depression or other mental health struggles. Not to mention, once a routine is disrupted often times individuals lose the habit altogether. Therefore avoiding injury is a great goal to have. One of our biggest goals with our patient care is injury prevention. In an effort to support the goal of remaining injury free here are some tips for preventing injuries in your day-to-day life!
Before we get into the how-to of preventing injuries, it is important to understand when injuries commonly occur.
First and foremost, you are most likely to experience an injury in a previously injured area. That means, if you have previously rolled your ankle, for example, it is likely that you will re-roll the same ankle at a later date. In order to prevent re-injury, it is important that you continue to strengthen previously injured areas with specific strength training or rehabilitation exercises as well as corrective exercises for other areas that support proper function at the ankle joint.
Another common time when injuries occur is first thing in the morning. This is especially common for those who are participating in weightlifting early in the morning. This is typically due to a lack of warm-up. Think about it, if you go to the gym later in your day there is more general movement in your day that allows your blood to circulate as well as your tissues to stretch and move organically. As opposed to waking up and heading straight to the gym. One thing you can do to lower your risk of injury if you are a part of a morning workout crew is to get up a smidge earlier to incorporate some more movement prior to your specific warm-ups, such as a short walk or gentle yoga.
*To learn more about the importance of warming up as a means of preventing injuries, check out this previous blog post*
Injuries are also more likely to occur early on in a person's fitness journey. This is often because people try to go too hard too fast or because their movement patterns are faulty. This can be combated by utilizing a personal trainer or coach to help teach the proper form as well as prescribe appropriate weights.
The idea of going too hard too fast is also often seen in people who have taken some time off from activity and are returning to their activity of choice. It is important to remember to ease back into activity in general. You are not starting from scratch necessarily so you will most likely return more quickly to the weights you were lifting before or the distance you were running, etc. It is important to offer yourself a bit of patience and grace if you are just getting back into the swing of things.
Conversely, people can be at risk of getting injured later on in their fitness careers too. This is typically due to them allowing their ego to speak louder than their body signals. No matter how long you have been a participant in your sport or activity, some days you have it and some days you don’t. It is crucial to always listen to your body and treat each workout independently from previous workouts. It is important to remember to only compete with yourself. Some days you will hit a new personal record but other days you will notch the intensity back and focus on form or steady movement or clearing your mind. These are just as important as how much you sweat or your perceived exertion. There are many ways to make a workout count, finishing the fastest or pushing the hardest should not be the goal of every workout. Remember that consistency is always going to be better in the long run than pushing yourself harder than you should for one workout.
Even if you keep these tips in mind, injuries can happen. If they do, we typically recommend using ice within the first 48 hours. If you want to know more about when to ice vs when to heat, read this article that was previously written by Dr. Taylor. For your reference, the “new” recommendations for taking care of a recent injury are (gentle) movement, ice, compression, and elevation. Additionally, make an appointment for an evaluation with one of our doctors or another provider, sooner rather than later.
While our bodies are incredible self-healing organisms that will work to heal an injured area on its own, as we age it takes longer for us to heal. Can you relate to the idea that ailments used to "just go away on their own" and now that doesn't seem to be the case? As we said at the start of this piece, the longer it takes to heal, the longer we are out of our routine, and the more disruptive an injury can be in the long run.
Don't let an injury slow you down, allow us to help you get back to feeling like yourself as fast as possible!