“Why am I injured all the time?”
That’s the constant lament from millions of physically active adults who just can’t seem to get back to full health. It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional athlete, an avid runner training for another marathon or simply someone who likes to play a weekly pickup game with your friends; living with a nagging or reoccurring injury that never seems to heal can be frustrating, puzzling and downright maddening.
If you’ve ever asked yourself the question above, there might just be an answer. While being injury prone is sometimes built into a person’s genetics, there are also harmful habits that can lead to this irritating state of being constantly sidelined. Here are four of these habits and how you can break them.
You Don’t Know How To Rest Properly
There’s an injury-recovery sweet spot between resting too much and not resting enough that many gym-goers, amateur athletes and weekend recreationalists haven’t discovered yet.
First thing’s first; rest doesn’t mean sitting for days or weeks on the couch and waiting for the body to sort itself out after an injury. Injuries usually arise from imbalances or weaknesses in your muscles, joints or tendons. Addressing these imbalances and weaknesses through targeted stretching, strength training or exercise routines can help you erase that reoccurring hurt.
And then there’s being too committed to your athletic pursuits. Rest also isn’t taking a day off every month while going extra hard at the gym the next day to compensate. Planning regular rest days is crucial to letting the body heal and this includes getting quality sleep, reducing stress, icing or heating your muscles, going to physiotherapy, getting a message or even doing something physically active that uses a different set of muscles than your regular workouts.
You’re Not Good In The Kitchen
Proper nutrition is absolutely key to rehabbing and strengthening an injury prone body. What you put into your body on the daily will have a huge impact on how it copes with aches and pains.
Outlining all the different food advice for those struggling with injury could take up several blog posts, so we’ll keep it fairly simple; don’t reduce your caloric intake just because you’re not as active, eat the right kind of fats (omega-3s!), make sure you get enough protein and don’t skimp on important vitamins and nutrients. These steps will give the body the energy and fuel necessary to recovery from injury effectively. You can also have a look at our 5 suggested foods for injury recovery.
Changing your injury-prone nature is just as much about what you drink as it is about your food choices, particularly if you enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two while you’re injured. Alcohol impedes muscle development and growth, thus preventing proper recovery. It also dehydrates the body, depletes energy and affects the body’s sleep patterns. The bottom line is, stay away from the heavy drinking if you want to recover from an injury and stay recovered.
You’re Not Using The Right Equipment
Following the crowd can sometimes leave you trampled underfoot. Not everyone’s bodies are built the same, so the running shoes, workout machine or other type of athletic equipment that all your friends use may be the thing causing you to be injured all the time.
First, you need to examine the type of equipment you are attaching to your body. Get input from a professional on the type of shoes are the perfect fit for your feet. You might also want to invest in clothes that fit the activity you are pursuing; for example, buy warmer clothes if you’re playing sports in cold weather as cold muscles and joints are more susceptible to injury. Lastly, consult a medical professional about supports and orthopaedic braces. They can help speed recovery and protect you from worsening or re-injuring weak spots while you continue training.
You also need to ensure the equipment you are using doesn’t stress the oft-injured part of your body. If one machine at the gym is particularly worrisome, here’s some simple advice, don’t work out on it! Here’s another example for bike enthusiasts; get a bike that creates proper posture and conforms to your body. Doing it the other way around (a bike that your body needs to conform to) is a recipe for injury.
You’re Not Good At Asking For Help
Most physically active adults are, by nature, not good at asking for help when they face an injury-riddled couple weeks, months or years. Pride, fear, determination, wishful thinking and ambition usually get in the way. This is very harmful thinking and will only lead to staying injury prone.
There is often a reason that someone is injury prone, but frequently the root of the problem is deeply engrained in the physicality and routine of the person. Medical professionals, such as physiotherapists, sports medicine experts, massage therapists, orthopaedic experts and the like, have the know-how and resources to help you slowly correct these imbalances or inherent traits so your body can better manage the stresses of sport and physical activity.
Injuries come with pain for a reason; it’s your body’s way of telling you there is something wrong and you should get help. Don’t ignore this warning sign. Ask an expert and they can get you on the right program with the right equipment to turn the tide and bring you from injury prone to injury-free.