Injury prevention: Why wait until something goes wrong?
With so much information about health and injury prevention available online these days, it’s hard to know where to begin. I am hoping that this blog is useful to you in providing some important concepts and a springboard for good health.
The body is always striving for optimal efficient function and good health. Think of all the times you have huge demand on your body and come away injury-free. Your body is helping you to prevent injury, so help your body in return!
Adaptation vs Compensation
When there is too much strain on one area of the body, the body recruits uninjured areas to do the work in order to protect the overloaded zone. If the body can cope and still function manageably, then this is adaptation. This also occurs to protect injured areas. Adaptation is a healthy response to overstrain or injury. If the body cannot cope, then uninjured areas either cannot adequately support the overstrained/injured area, or they become injured themselves. This is termed compensation.
Therefore injury prevention relies on our ability to adapt. Maintaining good joint/muscle flexibility and stability allows the body to physically adapt to more situations without overstraining. So keep MOVING!
Understand your body
Everybody is built differently and functions in a different context. As a result, we all have different areas of our body that are more or less vulnerable to injury. This is complex to decode, so it is advisable to have an assessment by a healthcare professional to understand what applies to you.
An Osteopathic Manual Practitioner (or other musculo-skeletal practitioner) can analyse your posture, muscle/joint functioning, the demands you place on your body and ability to adapt to them. This information can help you to be more effective in injury prevention strategies.
So many people come in saying that it has been months since their pain started and that they wish they had done something sooner. Often they say “I thought it would just go away”. Our bodies are incredibly resilient and often issues do resolve without us tending to them, but we shouldn’t take this for granted and they sometimes leave an unseen legacy of dysfunction. Many problems can be reduced or avoided by tending to them early.
Injuries are often a result of cumulative smaller strains over time. Try to identify repetitive strains in your life and either minimise them or train for them.
We all know we should warm up/down before and after sporting activities or doing an unfamiliar activity (although many don’t even do that!). Have you ever thought about warming up/down for everyday activities such as sitting at a desk for 8hrs, being on your feet all day or lifting at work? These are also high demand activities (albeit in a different way), placing lots of strain on postural muscles in particular.
Something is a LOT more than nothing
Even just a few minutes of basic exercises during the week can make a huge difference to injury prevention. This is particularly true if you are targeting the right areas, i.e. your vulnerable areas. Consult healthcare professionals before you have an issue with a view to preventing them! Educate yourself by seeing an Osteopathic Manual Practitioner, Naturopathic Doctor, Nutritionist or any others you think may be relevant to your situation!