Injuries can stop you in your tracks. So how can we prevent them?
Technique & the path of most resistance
All that stuff about how we ‘should’ lift weights actually matters. A bad technique and a heavy weight is a recipe for disaster and can cause serious injury. It is commonly believed that you should work towards ‘failure’ in resistance training, but many coaches now dispute this in favour of safer techniques. A good tip to ensure you’re not lifting more than you can handle is to use the ‘Control Repetition Maximum’; which identifies the amount of weight we can lift before our control starts to be lost. And to avoid sloppy, mindless exercise, look no further than the Pilates studio. If the quality of movement in Pilates is applied in the gym we get the best of both worlds; challenging loads and brilliant technique.
Pain is the enemy
If things hurt, you must pay attention ̶ working pain-free is your best chance at avoiding injury. Pain changes the way we move and how the muscles work, and it is worth noting that previous injury is still the biggest risk factor for another injury. If you want to get back to the gym without risk, it is worth seeking advice from a qualified professional.
Ownership; whose workout is this?
You need to take responsibility for not only your injury but also the long term prevention of re-injury. This involves learning to move well, following a balanced programme that changes on regular basis, avoiding over-use of the same body parts and resting just as effectively as you worked out.
The right kind of shoes are essential, especially for runners. If you run with a heel-toe technique, heel cushioned ‘running shoes’ are advisable. Although heavier than the minimal soled alternatives, if you are conditioned to wearing them it probably won’t matter. What may cause heel–toe runners an issue is switching to lightweight, minimally heel cushioned trainers without a period of transition in running technique. This often takes a number of months and can be frustrating if you want to keep running ̶ so it is best to stick to what you know. If you are a mid-fore foot runner heel-cushioned shoes are needlessly heavy.
A tendon-cy to cramp
Over the past few years interest has turned to conditioning of the Achilles tendon through slow, controlled calf raises, performed for 4 sets of 10 reps, 4 times a week. Importantly for runners, this seems to lessen the chances of calf related injuries. Additionally, many exercisers who follow this protocol find they experience less cramps in the calf and foot as the muscles of the lower leg beneficially adapt to the lengthening effect.
About the Author
Lincoln Blandford is the author of Central YMCA Guides 'Injury Prevention and Movement Control’ Volumes 1 and 2'. A hugely respected educator, Lincoln has been training personal trainers, strength and conditioning coaches and physiotherapists for a number of years. Delving into topics and challenging the conventional wisdom of widely held fitness beliefs, Lincoln is an authority on all areas of movement control and its impact on reducing injury prevalence.