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Inspired by the Olympics? Physio advice on exercising safely

Posted by Physiotherapy New Zealand on 3 August 2012 | 0 Comments Tags: ,

Feeling inspired by the Olympics to take up a sport?

Physiotherapy New Zealand (PNZ) today released a list of sports injury prevention tips for anyone wanting to increase their activity.

PNZ President Gill Stotter says injuries can often result when people start a new sport or activity and try to do too much too soon.

"The Olympics is one of the biggest sports events in the world today and it often inspires those of us watching to do more. The athletes can act as great role models and really help us dream a little more and set some of our own goals," says Ms Stotter.

"More activity is a fantastic thing, but we do want to offer some words of advice, particularly for those throwing themselves from doing nothing but watch the Olympics to heading out to pound the pavements for hours."

Ms Stotter says one of the keys to reducing the risk of injury is to gradually build up both the time and intensity of your exercise.

"Make sure you start off slowly and work to your own level – not that of an Olympic athlete."

The good news is that many sports injuries can be prevented, so consider these simple tips and then go out and enjoy.

Sports injury prevention tips

1. Start off slowly

It can be tempting to go all out when you're first starting, but its important to gradually increase the time and intensity for whatever activity you are doing.

2. Balance between training and recovery

Remember that even Olympic athletes have rest days! Training for a high number of consecutive days is a breeding ground for injury so take the time to recover so that your muscles and connective tissues have the opportunity to repair.

3. Don't train through pain

Try and listen to your body and don't ignore the signals it's trying to send you. If you are in a lot of pain then don't just push through, sometimes your body is telling you to slow down.

4. Warm up and stretch

The warm up is an often overlooked activity with research in the UK showing only one in five people always warm up. Warming up your muscles is a great step to injury prevention and it can also improve your performance. Follow your warm up with stretching and then some exercises that are specific to your sport (like a netball drill). If you're not sure what stretches to do then ACC has some great resources on dynamic and static stretching.

5. Cross train

Consider incorporating some different activities into your weekly workout schedule. Cross training can help prevent injuries, keep boredom at bay and increase your overall fitness. The trick is to combine different types of exercise such as cardio, strength and flexibility. For example you might consider a plan that incorporates running (cardio), with free weights (strength training) and yoga (flexibility).

6. Get the right gear

Having the right equipment when you train is really important, if you're a runner then this might be shoes that support your running style, if you're a team sport player this might be essential equipment to protect your body.

7. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Because we lose water when we exercise it's very important to replace it. The amount of water needed varies between everyone, so work out what is right for you. Your goal should be to remain hydrated throughout the whole day, rather than just gulping down a bottle after exercise. Sports drinks can be useful if your training at a high intensity for longer than an hour, however if you're just going for a short walk then stick to water.

If you do pick up an injury then make sure you see a health professional early, don't wait until it develops into something bigger. Click here to find a physio near you.

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