Injuries are a fact of life for anyone who exercises, no matter how fit, experienced or careful you are. But there are precautions you can take that will reduce the likelihood of picking up an injury.
Unfortunately, as we get older, we are more susceptible to injuries because our agility decreases along with our bone and muscle mass. It also takes longer to recover from even a small injury.
Life sucks eh?! But don’t give up - here are my top injury prevention tips:
1. A good warm up and cool down – cold muscles are more injury-prone so warm up gradually to increase your heart rate and get muscles ready for exercise. A cool down, like walking for 5-10 minutes, brings your heart rate back down to normal.
2. Stretch it out – do some stretches after your warm up to help increase flexibility and prevent muscle strain. A good stretch after your cool down also feels great.
3. Look after the big stuff – your quads (thighs), glutes (bottom), hamstrings (back of the legs) and core (tummy) muscles all work really hard on a daily basis and if you look after these big muscle groups and work them, they will reward you with strength and flexibility.
4. Start slowly – when you start a new class or exercise routine, ease into it gently. Don’t push yourself too hard, you don’t need to feel pain for the exercise to be effective. Taking it slow also gives you the chance to learn the correct technique so you don’t fall into bad habits.
5. Variety is the spice of life – doing different types of exercise (running, Pilates, Zumba, swimming, Boxfit) means that you don’t overuse certain muscles, gives your body a chance to recover between workouts and keeps your interest levels high.
6. Stayed fuelled up – you lose essential fluids during exercise so drinking plenty of water before, during and after a workout rehydrates the body. Exercising on a big meal is not a good idea but a healthy snack like a banana or a protein bar will replenish your energy stores.
7. The right gear – you don’t need to spend hundreds of pounds on the latest workout trends but a decent pair of trainers, a good sports bra and breathable clothing that gives you room to move are the basics to go for.
If you feel pain when exercising, stop straight away and if you're in a class, speak to your instructor straight away. Your best course of action might be to apply the RICE method (R: Rest, I: Ice, C: Compression, E: Elevate) or go to Minor Injuries.
When you’re recovering from an injury, avoid activities that put pressure on the affected area and don’t return to exercise until you are fully healed. It might take a few weeks to regain your fitness levels but don’t rush – build up your muscle strength slowly.
Find lots more advice and tips on exercising and healthy eating at www.gemmapearcefitness.co.uk.