Everyday ways to avoid injury

Don’t let injuries slow you down. John Doyle, Physiotherapy Lead at Nuffield Health, reveals simple techniques to help minimise your risk of injury.

Summer brings lots of opportunities to get outside and boost activity levels, which is excellent for your physical and mental health. Unfortunately, sometimes all this extra activity can cause pain, which holds you back and puts a dampener on your health and wellbeing. Exercise can help prevent injury and help you make the most of all the fun summer brings.

Functional training for everyday life

Did you know most daily activities and exercises involve one or more basic movement patterns? These include pushing and pulling, squatting, hinging, lunging and rotating. Learning to carry out these natural movements more efficiently and safely can help prevent injury in everyday life, as well as at the gym. This ‘functional training’ will help your body meet the demands of everyday life and improve your overall balance, flexibility, mobility, strength, and endurance.

Pushing and pulling movements

What: Pushing or pulling weight away or towards your body.
Why: Strong opposing muscle groups help with basic activities like pulling yourself off the ground to stand-up or pushing your child on a swing.
Try: Ask your trainer about Push-Ups, Pull-Downs, and Single-Arm Rows.

Squatting movements

What: Bending legs to lower your body while keeping your chest up and lower back straight.
Why: Whether you are standing up from a chair or bending down to pick up clothes off the floor, squatting is very much a part of daily life.
Try: Ask your trainer about Chair Squats and Jump Squats.

Hinging movements

What: Bending by hinging at hips.
Why: A frequent movement, we use it in our daily lives when lifting suitcases or picking things off the ground.
Try: Ask your trainer about Deadlifts and Single-Leg Deadlifts.

Lunging movements

What: A lunge is a single leg exercise movement that involves one leg stepping forward and bending while the other remains stationary.
Why: Lunges mimic walking, running and stair climbing and help with balance and flexibility.
Try: Ask your trainer about Side Lunges and Reverse Lunges.

Rotating movements

What: An action that involves pivoting or revolving your body, or part of your body, around a single axis.
Why: Rotating movements build strength in surrounding muscles to support and stabilise the body.
Try: Ask your trainer about Windshield Wipers, Dumbbell Chops and Medicine Ball Rotational Throws.

Other tips for avoiding injury

Warm up

Increasing your body’s core temperature, steadily increasing your heart rate, boosting blood flow to muscles and preparing yourself to focus on the workout ahead can help prevent injury.

Don’t overtrain

Be realistic; jumping straight into an old routine after time off can do more harm than good. Take into consideration your current circumstances and body condition. Avoid over-exerting muscles by building up slowly with low-intensity exercise. Walk before you run. Try resistance training before free weights.

Cross train

Variety in your fitness routines will give your muscles a break and help prevent overtraining. Your body will also benefit from the differing challenges.

Focus on technique

Check your form, get to know the equipment and master a sensible technique before launching into an unfamiliar exercise.

Seek expert advice

Speak to a trainer before you get started or progress to a new level in your fitness routine. Their safety tips will help you achieve your goal without getting injured.

Forget the mantra “no pain, no gain.”

While some muscle soreness after exercise is natural, you shouldn’t experience discomfort during exercise. In fact, your workout should be fun and enjoyable. If it's painful, chances are you’re doing it wrong.

Take recovery seriously

Sleep and rest to allow your body to prepare for your next workout. Eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes all the major food groups and sufficient calories for your needs will ensure you continue to perform at your best.

Invest in good workout equipment

It doesn’t always have to be expensive, so seek expert advice on what to wear for a safe workout. Invest in protective gear and get your feet measured to gauge what shoes best suit your arch, gait, body weight and training routine.

Last updated Tuesday 4 February 2020