Friday 28 October 2016

9-step plan on how to avoid knee pain and other common injuries


David Gillick
David Gillick

When an individual gets the motivation to do some new exercise, it can be become addictive very quickly. You start enjoying it, especially once you notice the changes to your mood, body and overall productivity. Furthermore, you start looking forward to your fitness class, your run or meeting your friends for a power walk.

It's common at the early stage of a new exercise regime for the body to become sore and tight in certain places, resulting in pain that no amount of rest and ice will shift.

It's inevitable that a niggle will eventually rear its ugly head whether it's at the start of your exercise journey or the week before your planned first big challenge - that 5km or 10 km.

The good news is, many minor injuries can be avoided with careful planning and the correct sportswear.

One of the most common injuries is knee pain or joint pain. Generally, this type of pain is associated with high-impact repetitive exercise such as running and it is not just associated with age either.

Here are some tips to best help prevent any knee injuries:

1. The first step is ensuring you get the correct footwear. A lot of good sports shops, especially the specialist ones, will do a gait analysis and a biomechanical assessment. You may have noticed a treadmill in these shops with a camera attached - this allows the specialist to slow down your walking or running action and identify your weak areas when your foot hits the ground.

From this, they can suggest the best footwear that supports your weak areas and will help prevent any major issues. Its important to replace this footwear after a certain period of time. The sales assistant should tell you the signs to look for when your shoes need to be replaced.

2. Aim to try running on grass now and again and include interval training sessions - these are periods of running followed by a period of rest (eg 10 reps of one minute high tempo with one minute recovery at a very slow tempo).

3. If you're only starting an exercise regime, increase your time and distance gradually, don't rush into doing 10km on your first run. Build it up steadily in stages.

4. You don't always have to run or walk. Vary it with different cardio exercises such as swimming, cycling, rowing machines or aqua jogging to help give your muscles and joints a breather while still getting an overall training effect.

5. Strengthen the muscles that surround your knee with gentle exercises, such as lunges, squats and those all-important glute (bum) exercises.

6. Warm up! This is important, especially now we are getting into the colder weather. Give your muscles and joints a light warm up with a light jog on grass followed by gentle stretching.

7. Get regular massage or physiotherapy. If you're doing high-mileage or high-impact sports, a sports massage will help keep muscles supple.

8. Self-massage using a foam roller and a hockey ball.

9. Be sensible and listen to your body, don't be afraid to take a rest day and don't let a little niggle become an injury by ignoring the signs.

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