Preventing sporting injuries by balancing your body
The wording and information in this blog post has been kindly provided by journalist Beverly Hadgraft, who has a vast experience in writing for Health and Fitness magazines including
We would like to thank Beverly for kindly providing information for helping inspire us for new and entertaining ideas for our patients and followers.
Have you ever watched a Yogi or Tai Chi master in action? They’ll do forward sequences, then back bends. They’ll work one side of the body then the other. There is a strong focus on balance.
Sporting injuries can result from one side of the
body being more dominant
The rest of us? We tend to do what we enjoy – and lots of it – then wonder why we have injuries. It’s because we develop poor balance in our muscle groups and if one side of the body becomes too dominant it can result in torn muscles and joint pain.
What to do? We should be performing a variety of activities and sports that will help keep our bodies balanced. That doesn’t just prevent injury, it can also enhance performance and stop us getting bored.
Here Anna-Louisa Bouvier, physiotherapist, mind-body expert and author of ‘The Feelgood Body’ (Harper Collins) and exercise physiologist and sports scientist Courtney Hargrave provides a push in the right direction.
Warning: the activity you most need to do is often the one that targets your weaknesses
so it may also be the one you most dislike. Sorry!
Runners and walkers
Runners often have strong legs but weak upper bodies. Try:
• Rowing – it also strengthens legs and backs without pounding against the pavement
• Resistance training – reverse flies and lat pull downs are recommended to build muscles in the upper back. You could also break up training runs with a stop for push ups and tricep dips.
Because runners move in a linear forward motion you need to improve hip mobility. Try:
• Zumba or other dance classes for multi-directional movement
• Soccer, it incorporates forward, back and side running and is great interval training which will give runners a real boost.
• Yoga or Bikrams to keep the body flexible and build strength in the lower back which helps the runner’s body cope with landing and push off.
Swimming is actually a good all-over body exercise. However, many swimmers plough up and down doing freestyle only. That results in a strong front body but weak back, glutes and hamstrings. Try:
• Warming up and cooling down with a few laps of backstroke
Many swimmers also suffer shoulder injuries so try:
• Resistance training to develop stabilising muscles. Focus on the deltoids, biceps, triceps and lats.
• Workouts using a Swiss ball or Pilates classes will help swimmers engage and strengthen the core promoting a stronger stroke and more power from the legs.
• Weight-bearing activities such as strength training, walking or running are recommended to help prevent osteoporosis.
Since cycling is a very forward activity, you need to build strength in the back so try:
• Backstroke swimming
• Kickboxing improves core strength which will increase cycling power, especially up hills, and also gives legs a more multi-directional workout.
• For a change of scenery try cross country skiing which strengthens the glutes, quads and core but has the bonus of adding some upper body action. High intensity workouts on a cross trainer will have similar effects.
• Balance out quad strength with workouts that activates the hamstrings such as hamstring curls.
Regular tennis players often get stronger on their dominant side. It’s important to stretch your upper body regularly, focussing on stretching away from your dominant side. Try:
• Yoga or stretch classes
• Put a cover on your racquet to add weight and then practise strokes (without a ball) using your non-dominant hand.
•Try an alternative sport that will provide a multi-directional, agility training stimulus to help with court coverage. Soccer is perfect and basketball is also great. If you want something completely different, try a salsa class.
• Rollerblading will help build cardio vascular strength, leg strength and balance.
• Resistance training such as push ups, pull ups and tricep dips will help keep the upper body strong and balanced.
Netball is all about balance and power, moving from leg to leg. The stronger your core, the better your balance will be and the less likely you are to get ankle and knee injuries. Try:
• Pilates classes to improve core stability.
• Many netballers find that dancing helps their performance on court, especially ballroom and even ballet. It improves balance, stability and agility.
• Get in a pool to practise jumping without putting stress on your knees. Waist deep in water, you’ll only suffer half the impact you’d feel on land. Get shoulder deep and the impact is reduced to eight per cent.
Golfers regularly get bad backs because they are leaning forward so much. In addition, when they whack that ball, the body has to move in all three planes simultaneously from a static position. Try:
• Yoga to protect the spine and provide better swing balance. Some golfers even swear it helps quieten the mind to help with tricky shots.
• Pilates to improve core strength.
• Power Plate or Acceleration training. The vibrations recruit fast twitch muscle fibres which over time will help to increase explosive strength – important for a big tee-off.
• Warm up your upper body before a game of golf and stretch regularly during the game.
• When you get home, gently stretch your lower back – lie over a small pillow placed between your waist and shoulders. Place your arms back with your head resting in the palms of your hands. Bend your knees if your back feels uncomfortable.
Climbers tend to be very strong through the pectoral muscles and the front of the body. Try:
• Backstroke swimming to strengthen muscles at the back of the body.
• Yoga – upward dog and the Cobra position are both ideal for climbers.
• Hanging from a high chin up bar to lengthen and stretch shoulders.
• Stand-up Paddle boarding is a great alternative workout for climbers. It preserves core and upper body strength while the isometric leg strengthening needed to keep balance on a board is helpful for climbers who often need to hold an awkward leg position without locking up. It also provides the perfect change of scenery.
Kayaking can be hard on your back, especially if your technique isn’t perfect. The same applies if you regularly use a rowing machine. Try:
• Back, hamstring and upward dog stretches.
• Pilates classes – lots of kayaking movement comes from the hips and Pilates will help balance core strength
• Boxing fitness classes, they’ll keep fitness and strength up in the colder months, it’s a similar upper body movement plus it’s good for mental toughness and quick thinking, both essential in difficult ocean conditions.
Surfers are also prone to bad backs – all that paddling means they’re constantly extending. Try:
• Pilates classes – many elite surfers say they can’t function without good core work.
• Yoga. It gets the creaks out of shoulders and can improve mindful breathing, very useful in difficult swell!
Yoga and Pilates
•Yoga and Pilates lovers will both benefit from cardiovascular workouts which will help them hold and sustain poses longer. Swimming is good for Yogis since it enhances breathing. Because so much of Pilates is done lying down, an upright workout is important to strengthen glutes and legs. Bush walking is ideal.
• Yogis can be prone to injuries in the hamstrings, knees, lower back and wrists so resistance training for those areas can take practise to a new level.
Contact MGS Physiotherapy for assistance in working out the best type of exercise for your body.