Injury Prevention for Your Life’s Activities
Injury prevention means preventing or reducing the likelihood of an injury to the body before it occurs. Prevention of an injury is possible with personal body maintenance. No one goes to work planning on getting injured, but it is likely to occur at least once in your career. Some things cannot be avoided; however, you can take prevention measures to keep the odds in favor of your health.
When we go to work we just go through the motions and forget to take care of our bodies so we can continue to work. Think of a professional athlete… they do a warm-up before starting a workout. A five- to ten-minute walk or jog will raise your core temperature and pre-lubricate your joints. Next, it is time to stretch. Stretching helps make the muscle more flexible and more able to do the strenuous work that needs to be done. Failing to stretch can lead to the muscle belly shortening, which can interfere with supporting muscles, joints and tendons. If an athlete did not go through the preparation of their bodies before their game they would have an increased rate of injury leading to a possible cut from the team. So let’s think like athletes!
Some other important points to remember when maintaining the health of your body are posture and body mechanics. How you position and use your body is important to preventing injury. Focus your mind on what you are doing and how you are using your body to achieve your goal. Aligning your body is key to using your body properly. Also, you should understand where your center of gravity is and keep the core strong.
Caring for the body after an activity is just as important as the warm-up phase. After your day of work, you should stretch all major muscle groups to reset the resting length. Applying ice is important to removing inflammation from tissues that have been overworked. Rest is essential to repairing the damage done from the micro-tearing that occurs from the repetitive movements done throughout the day.
The amount of work you do in a given day can determine your risk for injury. Muscles that are fatigued do not do a good job in protecting their allied connective tissues and can put tendon, ligament and cartilage at risk for injury. The number of days in a row that you have performed excessive work can put you more at risk for an injury. Also, if you have had a prior injury, then you could be at risk for re-injury. Allowing yourself recovery time is the best thing to restore and repair your body.
Prevention steps to maintain optimum health include:
- Treat minor injuries before they become chronic
- Avoid performing excessive work when you are in pain or fatigued
- Allow time for warm-up and cool down
- Monitor warning signs
- Receive massage to help your body recover
- Foam roll daily to decrease muscle tightness
- Maintain good posture
- If something hurts, stop doing the activity
- Perform cardiovascular fitness to increase circulation
- Avoid doing activities that cause strain
- Allow breaks in between work sessions
- Have a self-care strategy set in place
- Take responsibility for your own health
Natasha Roberson, ATC, LMT
Athletic Trainer & Massage Therapist