Four ways to reduce the risk of injury

© Can Stock Photo / Shakzu

The proactive approach to injury prevention

— By Laura Furneaux | The Adaptable You

“What could I have done to prevent this injury from happening?”

That’s one of the most common questions I get as a physiotherapist. I appreciate this mindset because it’s proactive. Of course, we can’t prevent all injuries but there are practices we can adopt  to reduce the risks.  

Let’s take a closer look at four of those strategies:

Commit to moving in some way every single day  

We were made to move. We should be moving more and moving better.

Movement doesn’t equal what we think of as exercise. This doesn’t have to be intense or difficult exercise.

Watch how animals move through their day. Think of how your dog or cat gets up after having a nap. They don’t just jump right into the next thing, they transition into movement slowly, stretching first. They don’t just sit, lay, walk, run.

We should be moving more and moving better

Move in as many ways as possible and really feel it. This is about taking a few minutes several times a day to be in your body. Make it something that helps you explore your full range of motion. It should feel easy and it should feel good.

The slower and more precise, the better. Make it something you really enjoy doing so that you do it every day, several times a day.

For example, instead of just stretching your arms above your head before you get up from sitting down, try taking a little more time to move slowly. Feel your muscles contract fully then relax. Take some time to move your head gently side to side, roll your shoulders. Take some nice deep breaths. Circle your wrists a few times, slowly. Make this kind of conscious movement a part of your break.

Improve your strength

Practise a strength routine one to three times a week. Research shows that without practising a strengthening routine, our strength begins declining as early as age 25. Most of us won’t notice the change until later in life when the decrease is more observable.

SEE ALSO: Keys to quicker injury recovery

Strength training is, in my opinion, the single most important thing you can do for your overall health. If you need motivation, ask yourself what you want to be able to do later in life and it will certainly link back to “being strong enough to…”

When starting a new exercise routine, go gradually

As a former athlete, I can tell you this is the hardest thing to grasp. You’re used to being in great shape and being able to physically tackle anything.

The truth is if you’re adding something into your routine that you haven’t practised in the past six to eight weeks, you need to gradually get back into what you’re doing. Put your ego aside, plan your workout and just enjoy it.

And everyone’s least favorite: Weighing risk vs. reward

Of course there are some activities that are more risky. Make sure that you are aware of the risks of injury before committing.

These four strategies are not only protective against injury but they can also be fun! Remember, as a human you are adaptable and capable of many great things. When you are injured, it’s important to get assessed by the movement experts — physiotherapists!


Introducing columnist Laura Furneaux

Laura grew up in Waverley, N.S., in a sport-loving family.  She competed nationally in artistic gymnastics and internationally on the national sprint canoe-kayak team.  After seeing the difference physiotherapy made in her life, Laura decided to study physiotherapy at the University of Queensland, Australia.  She works in Dartmouth, N.S., and her clinical interests are pain science, sports-related injuries, orthopaedic manual therapy and concussion rehabilitation.  Outside of work, she enjoys biking, rock climbing, trail running, kayaking, and, of course, the occasional handstand!