How to prevent injuries at the gym

It’s easy to get carried away with a new fitness regime and end up over doing things, but over-training or working out without proper warm ups can lead to serious problems. As is so often the case, getting older makes things more likely to go wrong, with a survey from Ramsay Health Care UK revealing that 70% of people over 55 have been to A&E with sports related injuries.

But there’s no need to panic! With a sensible approach to exercise there’s no reason not to continue playing sports, working out and generally keeping fit throughout your life.

How to avoid injury playing sports

Tips from Sports Doctor Kumar Kunasingam

We see many images and routines online but many of these can be complicated and require a good starting point of fitness which is what most people are really trying to achieve. While such videos can be great for ideas and inspiration, they can leave people feeling disappointed and demotivated when they fail to reach unrealistic goals. It’s important to set your own goals and aim to lead up to more difficult activities. I see many injuries sustained due to poor basic fitness and flexibility.

  • Simple goals and lots of them – what do YOU want to achieve – don’t be told by others but help yourself. Often our goals are simple – ‘feel less out of breath’, ‘touch my toes without straining’, ‘keep up with the kids/grandchildren’ and so on. Keep these simple, once you have achieved this you will feel proud and more motivated to set new goals – keep these simple too – you’re more likely to convert and consolidate these short term goals adding them up to a bigger long term health benefit.
  • Most of us suffer with poor core. Core is essentially the coordinated use of lots of muscles to help keep us upright and move forwards which is vital for good posture and injury prevention. A simple technique to improve core strength is to hold on to a chair for balance and squat while pulling your stomach in.
  • Successful accomplishments all take time to achieve and the same is true for fitness. The problem is making time. How can we get more time in the day for fitness? Easy, keep it simple and use what you have for example, walk a longer route, throw in some squats whilst standing in the kitchen waiting for the morning coffee water to boil. Build on these simple tasks during the day and when you find them too easy your core and baseline fitness will be ready for more formal fitness environments such as the gym and classes.

Easy warm up exercises before you work out

Sally Mirtle, a Senior Musculoskeletal Physiotherapist at Ashtead Hospital, Ramsay Health Care UK recommends a general warm up of 5-10 minutes of light cardiovascular exercise such as a fast walk, light jog or gentle cycle.

Sally has also compiled a series of warm up exercises to help prevernt injury whilst playing sport.

Arm Circles

Stand straight with your feet hip width apart, raise arms to side keeping elbows extended, slowly rotate arms forward making a circle. Repeat 10 times in each direction.

Hip Rotations

Place your hands on your hips and circle your hips around keeping your torso straight. Circle 10 times one way, and 10 times the other way.

Leg swings

Hold on to a support keeping your torso upright, gently swing one leg forward and back like a pendulum. Repeat 20 times each leg.

Knee Lifts

Stand with support if needed and lift one knee to your chest to tap your opposite hand. Alternate knee lifts 20 times on each side.

Mini squats

Stand with your feet hip width apart, bend your knees and lower your bottom a small way as if sitting on a chair slowly return to start position. Repeat 20 times

Calf Pumps

Stand and lean onto a support with your knees straight. Alternate calf pumps lifting one foot to tip toe and as you lower down lift the other leg to tip toe. Repeat 20 times.

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