With the London Olympics looming more of us than ever are likely to be inspired to take up a new sport. However, starting a new activity can all too often lead to injury through initial over-enthusiasm, making preparation key to long term participation & sporting success. Having been in professional sport here, America and in Europe for nearly two decades I have come to one simple approach in the prevention and treatment of sports injuries; keep it simple.
It may sound strange but if you are not used to activity see your GP or osteopath to make sure you are fit to take part in any activity. Other than general health concerns the most common complaint arising out of pursuing a new activity are back, knee and ankle problems.
Trying to prevent yourself from becoming injured usually means taking time when starting your new activity. Rest is just as important as the activity. It is during your rest period that your body can make the adjustments to your activity. Naturally, stretching, warming up and warming down are essential. Eating proper meals at least an hour before activity. Hydration in the form of water will prevent cramps and aid your recovery. Unless you are dehydrated or running in extreme weather conditions there is no need to carry water with you, it’s too late.
Always begin your training in short episodes. With running you should start with 10 to 15 minutes. Playing tennis could be an hour, which is more sociable. Warm ups and stretching should be an independent part of your sport and will make stretching and warming up before you perform much easier. Muscles soreness the day after the day is usual but if it continues see your GP or osteopath there may be an underlying problem that your activity has highlighted.
Here are my 5 tips for safe and enjoyable activity:
- Get a medical checkup from your GP or osteopath.
- Eat and drink water properly. Especially, drinking on a regular basis. You should drink an average of one and a half litres a day.
- Stretch and warm up independently of your activity. Stretch, warm up and warm down as part of the activity.
- Take your time when starting. Rest is as important as the sport.
- If you feel you have a problem, don’t leaving it. Any simple problems can be cleared up in a relatively short time.
Walter Llewellyn McKone, DO is an osteopath practicing in Alexandra Palace and Winchmore Hill. He is an author, lecturer and practitioner in general osteopathic medicine, paediatrics, sports medicine, psychology, philosophy and influenza.
Appointments 020 8889 1610. You can follow Walter on Twitter: @mckoneosteo and on waltermckone.wordpress.com