Active without injuries

 Being active is a vital part of leading a healthy lifestyle. However, any sporting activity can lead to injury, especially among weekend warriors who spend the entire week behind a desk.
   Although injuries in contact sports are expected, many injuries also occur in non contact sports where many people do not anticipate the risk of injury. Whether through repetitive use or unexpected impact, the prevalence and severity of injuries can be limited through improved training or the incorporation of other training modalities. Once an injury has occurred, many treatment options are available, many of which will help limit the likelihood of the injury reoccurring.
   Although contact sports can result in injuries that are difficult to prevent through training, greater flexibility and strengthening of muscles can help limit the likelihood of such injuries as well.
Easing into it
   According to Christine Gibbs of A Step Ahead Physiotherapy, many injuries occur due to people not building up their training slowly.
   “Some people just don’t know how to train. Most of the things I see is ‘too much, too soon”. It’s not just one size fits all, you really need to be assessed first,” says Gibbs.
   Getting proper equipment that works for you is a vital part of preventing injuries as well.
   “People don’t know that shoes come in different support levels. Sometimes, if I can just put them in the right shoe, their problems are solved. They have no more ankle pain; they have no more knee pain, just because they are in the right shoes. You can buy the most expensive pair, but it might not be right for you,” says Gibbs.
Being more flexible
   According to Gibbs, one of the root causes of sports injuries is a lack of flexibility.
   “Many people sit at a desk all day, where everything is at 90 degrees – knees, hips. And then you go do these sports where everything is open. Just reverse what you’ve been doing all day – stretch out your shoulders, stretch out your hip flexors the opposite way of being hunched over. That’s a start,” says Gibbs.
   “I try and explain to patients that your shoulder is like the wheel of a car – it has an axis. If you have moved that wheel or the axis ever so slightly it is not going to spin as a wheel should. And so you go to move your shoulder on this axis that has moved you’re just begging for an overuse injury.”
   Janelle Kroon of Bliss Living Yoga agrees with Gibbs.
   “Tight muscles are more prone to acute injury, and by stretching those tight spots, we lessen the chance of repetitive injuries by allowing the body to move more smoothly,” she says.
   According to Kroon, stretching the connective tissue poses a big problem for many athletes, as the short stretches most athletes engage in are not sufficient to counteract tightness in the connective tissues.
   “Holding for a short time will keep it as the same tight and stuck consistency; however holding for more than a minute results in softening and lengthening,” says Kroon.
Cross training
   Incorporating some form of cross training into your routine can be very beneficial, with yoga fitting the bill perfectly.
   “Yoga can be done at a high or low intensity,” says Kroon.
   She recommends daily practice of vigorous yoga in the off season and at the start of training season, along with yin yoga, which involves the long holding of stretches. In season, she suggests practicing yoga after training and on days off.
Elite benefits
   It is not just the weekend warriors who can benefit from yoga. Even top athletes can help limit their chances of injury and improve the performance by integrating different training modalities like yoga into their fitness programme.
   Top local marathon runner Beth Schreader added yoga to her training recently and had found it addresses many of the problems she experienced previously.
   “It has helped me significantly with improving flexibility and relieving tension, especially in the hips, which is a major problem area for runners and other athletes,” says Schreader.
   In the past, Schreader has suffered a number of running injuries, with the root cause being hip issues.
   “Since beginning my yoga practice, I have been injury free and don’t feel the tweaks and twinges that I used to,” she says.
   Another benefit Schreader has experienced is to her posture.
   “Regular yoga practice has really helped me strengthen my back and start to reverse the poor posture I’ve developed from being hunched over at a desk all day, which in turn has improved my running posture, especially when fatigued,” according to Schreader.
   “I have always stretched for five to 10 minutes after my runs but going to yoga a few times a week has done more for me in six months than post-run stretching has done in 10 years,” she says.
   According to Kroon, yoga should be considered an extension of training for a sport, rather than an addition to it, with as little as a few short sessions a week bringing tangible benefits.
   Another vital element in sport is balance, whether between different muscle groups in the body or in the simple sense of staying upright.
   “Yoga and its specific balancing poses allow you to strengthen the joints, align the joints properly, which is an ultimate injury saver and bring awareness to the body’s centre of gravity when you are in different positions,” says Kroon.
   This awareness can be very useful in sport, preventing athletes from losing their balance and injuring themselves in the process.
   “Practiced with alignment, Yoga is safer and more beneficial to strengthening and stability in the joints than weight training,” says Kroon.
   Certain sports can also cause asymmetrical muscle development, especially racquet sports, softball or golf.
   “I see people with huge erector spinae (back muscles) on the one side, and the other side is just flat. You can’t have that huge imbalance in your body,” says Gibbs.
   She suggests incorporating training that will strengthen the muscles on the weak side in order to restore balance.
   Alignment is very important throughout the body, but in few placed can the result of bad alignment be seen as clearly as in the knees.
   “Knee pain is hardly ever the knee’s fault – it is either your hips or your feet,” according to Gibbs.
   Many people get knee surgery to correct a problem with their knees without realising that it was caused by a problem elsewhere.
   “Two years from now they are going to need the same knee surgery,” she says.
   “You need somebody to look at your feet and see what kind of shoes you need. There are various foot types, and if we can’t get the right kind of shoes, you need orthotics to sort out your foot problems,” says Gibbs.
Sport specific training
   As important as incorporating additional training modalities in sport can be, doing sport specific training can also make a big difference to sports injuries.
   “A lot of  sports have lateral motion, but many people don’t train for that. They train forwards and backwards, which is all in one plane, whereas the injuries usually come from sudden changes of motion side to side, so you need to train for what you’re doing,” says Gibbs.
   Training for the specific stresses a sport like football can place on the body will reduce the likelihood of such injuries occurring during games.
There is no doubt  however that even injuries happen in sports and then you might need help to get  fitness and  mobility back.
   Dr.Eddie Fernandes, chiropracter and ART ( active release technique) practitioner at the Da Vinci Centre says that as soon as you get an injury you must “RICA” that is rest, ice, compress and elevate. He says always  check out any injury with a medical professional to make sure there are no complications. Then after about three days start stretching, this is important as it can prevent the build up of scar tissue. Sometimes people find it difficult to recover from an injury or suffer from traumas from old injuries. Fernandes practises active release treatment (ART) which treats problems that occur with the muscles tendons. ligaments and nerves, resulting from overused muscles or other traumatized soft tissues. These types of injuries can   cause a build up of scar tissue and reduced oxygen to the affected area,mobility is affected and muscles become shorter and weaker.  Tension on tendons causes tendonitis and nerves can get trapped.Manipulation is done on the adhesions causing them to break up.ART has been in use to treat top athletes for years and a combination of ART and chiropratic can really help with mobility.Fernandes says, “ Chiropractic can encourage the proper range of motion for the joints and  ART manipulation  and get rid of old scar tissue. Even if a person has developed osteo-arthritis ART  can help  maintain the joints mobility..

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