If you're a fairly active person then chances are you will have sustained some form of injury at some time, and you'll know how frustrating, demotivating and painful they can be.
The most common forms of injury that occur from exercise are strains, sprains and back pain, and luckily there are some easy things you can do to prevent them so you can stay injury-free, healthy and happy!
1. Stretch (but only for certain sports)
Stretching is a bit of a controversial topic in the fitness world and whether it helps prevent injury. It seems though in some sports and activity it's a good idea and could help prevent injury but in some it has no effect at all.
Studies have shown that sports involving bouncing and jumping activities with a high intensity of stretch-shortening cycles (SSCs) (for example football require a muscle-tendon unit that is compliant enough to store and release the high amount of elastic energy that benefits and enhances performance in such sports. If the participants of these sports have an insufficient compliant muscle-tendon unit, the demands in energy absorption and release may rapidly exceed the capacity of the muscle-tendon unit. This could lead to an increased risk for injury of this structure. Therefore, the rationale for injury prevention in these sports is to increase the compliance of the muscle-tendon unit. Recent studies have shown that stretching programmes can significantly influence the viscosity of the tendon and make it more compliant, and when a sport demands SSCs of high intensity, stretching may be important for injury prevention.
2. Warm up
Just like you need time to wake up in the morning, your body also needs time to ease itself into a workout - cold muscles are much more prone to injury and tears. This doesn't just count for cardio either. Even if all you plan on doing is lifting weights during your session, you should start your sets with warm up reps before you begin your working sets.
Bad form is one of the biggest culprits for causing injury - the mirrors in the free weights area aren't there just to pose and take selfies! If you're new to a class, ensure you get the instructor to talk through setting up equipment with you or if you're embarking on a weight lifting programme, then invest in a few sessions with a personal trainer to show you correct form before you begin - and check yourself out in the mirror!
4. Lace up
Unfortunately your trust Converse just aren't going to cut it here, making sure you have the right footwear is really important to making sure your shoes can absorb the movements of exercise and keep you injury free. Different exercise also require different kinds of trainers - check out this great article from Greatist all about what to look for when buying running trainers.
Just like your car needs to be in good nick to keep it working , so does your body. To give you the best chance of staying injury free you should look after your body, fuel it with good nourishing food, give it plenty of water and get adequate rest.