By Joel Desgreniers, Physiotherapist and Co-Founder of SkiUphill
Summer is here, and along with it comes running, mountain biking, hiking, climbing and other warm temperature activities. Here are 10 tips to help you be successful in those activities while staying injury-free.
1- Maintain good flexibility
Many injuries can be prevented by maintaining a good overall flexibility. Each sport requires a different amount of flexibility and many activities can lead to specific retracted muscles depending on the movements performed. Yoga is a great way of stretching things out, but a routine is also an easy addition at the end of the day. Passive stretches (how most of us think of stretching) should not be performed right before or after an activity although doing 10 minutes of stretching at night will keep your muscles healthy and happy
2- Listen to your body
If it hurts, it is probably because you either did too much or you did something wrong. Some aches get better by simply pushing though them but that’s not often the case. If something hurts after a run, a hike or a ride, take it easy for 48 to 72 hours. Taking it easy means that you could keep doing your activity as long as your pain stays in the ‘’discomfort’’ realm and doesn’t flare-up afterwards.
3- Know when to seek help
An achy joint doesn’t necessarily mean an injury. Most mild aches and pains resolve in 48 to 72 hours. If the pain persists past this period, you should consult a knowledgeable health care professional like a physiotherapist. Most injuries resolve faster if treated early and correctly.
4- Progress slowly
Most sport-related injuries result from overuse. Overuse happens when the tissues endure too much stress for the resistance they have. A classic example of overuse is tendonitis. Slowly increasing the duration and the intensity of your activities is the key to preventing many injuries. Whether it’s climbing, running or cycling, you should always give your body sufficient time to adapt to a more difficult session before pushing it further.
5- Vary your activities
Unless you are specifically preparing for an important event, varying the activities you engage into is a great way to prevent overusing certain joints or muscles. Additionally, transfer (choosing another activity than the one you take part into most of the time) is a great strategy to maintain fitness when you body tells you to take it easy. If you’re injured, use transfer to keep your body moving. For example, injured runners will often take up cycling to train if they are unable to run.
Resist the temptation to begin every training by being out of breath after only a couple minutes. Dedicate at least the first 10 to 15 minutes of every training session to warming up at a much lower intensity than you maximum. By allowing your body to warm up, it will perform better and will be less injury-prone.
7- Use adequate equipment
As obvious as it might seem, many people injure themselves with worn-out or inadequate equipment. Change your shoes before they wear-out. A worn-out outsole is not always the issue though. You should rather replace your shoes when uneven wear tilts your feet away from resting flat on the ground.
8- Focus on technique
Correct technique is of high importance to prevent overuse injuries. Take a course, hire a teacher or a guide, ask your more experienced partners or read about it. The way you practice your activities should be as important as how hard you can go. Technique is efficiency and efficiency is free performance.
Most professional athletes will tell you, resting is just as important as training. Resting allows your body to adapt to the stress you have it endure. Make sure you have easy days to recover from more difficult sessions.
10- Don’t underestimate the importance of nutrition
Nutrition is hugely understated when talking about sport. It has a crucial importance in keeping your body fast and strong. For example, staying hydrated is a factor in preventing tendonitis and eating enough calories helps with staying warm on a climb. Give your body “good fuel” and don’t wait for your tank to be empty before you treat yourself to some calories.
Bonus – Become an expert at foam rolling
A foam roller is probably the best investment you can make to nurse your body back to health after an activity. Learn how to use it to massage your muscles and it will become your best post-training friend/enemy.