It’s the New Year – and once again it’s time to make those resolutions and be a slightly better person this year.
For many of you, that will mean exercising, and getting up from your desk-job, blowing the dust off your trainers and trotting gamely around the local park. You’ve got a sedentary job, it already feels like a long winter, you’ve been home all Christmas…
But the creaking noise you can hear is the sound of your body rebelling in protest and something fundamental going wrong, and doctors’ waiting rooms and A+E departments in hospitals swap the New Year alcohol-related injuries for a big rise in the number of people sitting glumly in muddy kit on plastic chairs. Runners crank up their mileage too quickly, soccer players make clumsy tackles or turn awkwardly because they remember they had the conditioning to get those moves right last time (four months ago), and gym members who couldn’t even face the rainy trip to the warmth will lift heavier weights than they can manage. As an osteopath in South London, I see the results of this all too often.
So joints, muscles, cartilages, ligaments and bones take a hit. Sports-related problems are almost always mechanical, but there are ways you can make sure your keep that mechanism working at it’s best:
– Take it easy, slow down and recognise your limitations. The biggest cause of sports injuries is impatience
– Warm up properly before you exercise. All those stretches really do work. If you feel a bit foolish, then feel free to do them with an ironic look on your face
– Don’t push your body beyond your current fitness level. It might be mentally painful, but be realistic about yourself.
– If you are doing a contact sport, especially, then use the recommended safety equipment such as shin guards for soccer or hockey or a gum shield for rugby. The day you forget your gumshield is the day you get a smack in the mouth.
– Don’t be too proud to get coaching for your technique. That might involve a better running of swimming style, a better kicking or approach to tackling. Whatever it takes to get your body operating properly. And it has the addd bonus of stopping you looking like a fool…
By all means, get up and get the blood flowing again. But be careful out there…