Waggy Races – Week 1: Worried about getting injured? Or flaring up an injury? READ ON
One of the most common questions I’m asked is how to prevent injuries when building up for an event/ starting a sport (the most common one is: “Is he (Kyt) a Husky?” – nope, Kyt’s an Alaskan Malamute, Ruby is a Samoyed; “yes his paws are big”; “No he doesn’t eat much”; “Yes they take some brushing”).
Back to the point, the biggest risk for getting an injury, is a previous history of an injury. This could be due to people not doing enough to recover from the injury (i.e. doing their exercises… or not at all) and end up adapting/compensating for the injury – putting stress on other areas.
Ankle injuries are a classic one. Just because the pain/ bruising/ swelling has gone away from a bad twist, and you’re back running again, it does not mean everything has recovered. It is likely you have adapted, you may have even rolled it or tripped over it a few more times since, and now perhaps the calf tightens up, or the hip, after a running a bit?
With running, a common sign of this is a person saying ‘my calf/ thigh/ hip muscles are always tighten up – no matter how much I stretch’. If a region of your body is always tight, or stiffens up, it could indicate that area is working hard to compensate for an underlying issue (i.e. your body is keeping it tight or working it harder on purpose). No matter how much stretching/ yoga you do, it will tighten up again and again until you address the underlying issue. The tightening up is a symptom of a problem, like smoke from a fire.
The key with preventing an injury, or flaring up an old one is to first check the integrity of the area – for example the ankle – how intact are the ligaments (Stephen J Reid)? Then check if you have adapted the way you move/run and now put more stress elsewhere? Then check are you strong enough to do what you need to do?
If you have a past injury that is worrying you – get it checked out properly and get a good management plan that addresses your key underlying issues. Two or three simple, and targeted, exercises can make a big difference – not just squats and more squats, right Neil?!
Over the coming weeks we’ll post up some basic exercises that help runners get back on their feet, and/or help prepare them for an event.
Mark lectures in Sports and Exercise Medicine at Ulster University and is physio for the Belfast Giants Ice Hockey team. He also runs clinics at the REPLAY Clinic