One of the largest obstacles in achieving your fitness goals is an injury. If you’ve already suffered from an injury, you’ve already increased the risk for another injury. Injury prevention should be part of your training. It’s essential. However, most of the time it tends to take a backseat to injury management.
It’s time to shift your mindset to being proactive rather than reactive. By focusing on ways to prevent injury, you can stop those obstacles from impeding on your athletic performance. Key components of injury prevention include stretching, flexibility exercises and self-massage to not only heal faster but to decrease the risk of injury in the future. Plus, you might even find that implementing an injury prevention routine also boosts your performance.
Kinesiology and Preventing Injury
Kinesiology is the study of human movement. You can see how an understanding of this helps with preventing injury and improving performance. Kinesiologists tend to be involved in rehabilitation and injury treatment and prevention. By using several areas of science including anatomy, physiology, and biomechanics, they can help you learn to move your body in the most effective ways possible.
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When preventing and treating injuries, applied kinesiology often comes up. Although similar sounding, applied kinesiology and kinesiology are different. Applied kinesiology uses muscle testing to actually test the strength of a muscle. Through different muscle-testing techniques, you can identify weak muscles and restore the natural flow of energy in the body.
This whole-body or holistic approach doesn’t just look at one part of the body. If you’re showing signs of injury in one area, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the cause of the injury. Oftentimes, an injury can be caused by a certain set of muscles compensating for a weaker set. The idea of applied kinesiology is to pinpoint any underlying issues and offer a solution. This can form part of a preventative medicine program to support athletic performance.
Enhancing Performance with Self-Massage and Stretching
Over the last few years, the use of self-myofascial release treatments has massively increased. Things like foam rolling and assisted self-massage have become the norm to enhance range of motion and boost performance. But, static stretching and dynamic stretching still have their place in physical performance when it’s used effectively. By using preventative measures like self-massage and stretching, you can improve flexibility and joint range of motion.
Stretching isn’t just for flexibility though. What’s interesting is that if you continue to work a muscle without stretching, it won’t become stronger. In fact, what happens is that the muscle will tighten and actually become weaker and work less efficiently. Then, with time, the muscle is more likely to pull, tear, or simply become injured. So don’t think that you can just skip stretching because you aren’t a gymnast, dancer, or yogi. Stretching helps with muscle recovery.
Stretching can also help to reduce injury before and after exercise. Other benefits include increased blood supply which helps to minimize muscle soreness after working out, promotes better posture and has a calming effects on the mind. The more mobility and flexibility you have the better your performance will be as it helps to maximize your muscles’ elasticity. This means that you can move explosively and quickly to your body’s fullest potential.
Another element that can play a part in injury prevention is self-massage. If you’re just about to start a workout at the gym, the majority of you would probably do a warm-up beforehand. This helps to prepare your muscles for the task ahead. Experts also suggest massaging or rolling your muscles before exercise too. Self-myofascial release (SMR) or foam rolling is a type of soft tissue therapy.
This can be especially helpful if you deal with a chronic injury that tends to flare up. During the time that I was training the hardest in dance, I used to spend 30 minutes to an hour rolling out my muscles. Not only did it help with my flexibility, it also kept the muscles near my injury and at my injury healthy instead of tightened. This allowed me to have a lower chance of inflaming the area again during training.
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One systematic review looked into the effects of self-myofascial massage using a foam roller on muscle recovery, joint range of motion and performance. Researchers found that it may help to increase joint range of motion without negatively affecting muscle performance. With a combination of exercises, stretches, and self-massage, you can help to prevent injury and boost performance.
3 Stretches to Boost Flexibility and Performance
The Spinal Twist stretches the glutes, obliques, and chest. The heart-opening stretch helps to improve spinal mobility and support digestive health. It also benefits posture in everyday life for those who sit and may hunch over at work.
Start by lying on your back and bend your knees with your feet on the ground. Bring your knees to your chest with your back lying flat on the ground with your hips stacked. Take a deep breath in and bring your left knee to your chest as you straighten your right leg out. Inhale and on the exhale shift your left knee over your midline to the right. Open your arm to the left and breath deeply. Repeat on the other side.
Open Hip Flexor Stretch
This is a great stretch for the hip flexors and adductors. The adductors start from the pelvis and go to the thigh bone. They play an essential role in rotational power so they are crucial to athletic performance.
Start by kneeling tall with your chest upright. Lift your left foot to the side so that both your toe and knee are pointing out in the same direction to the left. Keep your right hip, head, and chest facing to the front. Lean to the left slightly for a few seconds before coming back into the center. Repeat again, sitting into the stretch a little deeper. Repeat on the other leg.
Standing Forward Bend
A Standing Forward Bend helps to strengthen and lengthen the calves and hamstring. This is an area that commonly gets tight if you run or play a sport with lots of running. This stretch is also meant to help relieve stress and promote a good night’s sleep.
To get into this position start by standing tall then reach your arms overhead. Sweep your arms down the side of your body until your in a forward bend at your hips. Place your fingertips in line with your toes or use a block. Bend your knees very slightly and let your head hang. Take a deep breath, place your hands on your hips and come back to standing slowly.
Sports Injury Prevention Tips
Preventative medicine is all about taking steps to improve your performance and protect yourself from injury. If you’re injured then you’re not meeting your fitness goals or boosting your performance. Injury prevention is more than a stretching regime, it combines a few different elements to lower the risk as much as possible so you can spend your time building rather than repairing.
Here are a few sports injury prevention tips:
- Warm-up and cool-down
- Get enough sleep
- Listen to your body
- Rest and recover between training sessions
- Good nutrition is essential
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In order to achieve your fitness goals and push your body to its fullest potential, preventative care needs to form part of your daily regime. Injury prevention goes further than a warm-up or a bit of stretching. By incorporating multiple elements like self-massage, plenty of recovery and varied stretches, you can help to keep your body in optimum condition and improve athletic performance.
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