Musculoskeletal injuries can occur during exercise if you are not careful. Common injuries include strains, sprains, and broken bones. The risk increases when you engage in a new level of activity (intensity) to which your body is unaccustomed. Your baseline fitness level, as well as the total amount of exercise you perform, play a role. For instance, if you have been previously inactive or are a "weekend-only" exerciser, your risk is greater than someone who has been consistently exercising for years. However, engaging in excessive amounts of exercise increases the likelihood of developing overuse injuries such as stress fractures. Participation in contact forms of exercise, such as football, increases your risk as well. In addition, switching to a mode of exercise that requires different skill and muscle involvement from your current program predisposes you to injury.
How can you reduce your risk for exercise-related musculoskeletal injuries?
- Exercise on a regular basis to develop a solid foundation of fitness.
- Start and end each exercise session with a proper warm-up and cool-down, respectively (refer to my postings in the February Archives on Warming-Up and Cooling-Down).
- Choose activities that are appropriate for current fitness and skill level.
- Gradually increase the duration and intensity level to allow your muscles and cardiovascular system to adapt to the new activity.
- Engage in a variety of exercises (cross-train) to reduce overuse injuries. For instance, alternate days of low-impact activities (bicycling) with days of high-impact activities (running).
- Wear appropriate exercise/protective gear for the activity such as helmets, pads, guards, goggles/eyewear, and footwear.
- Check to make sure sports/exercise equipment is in working order and free of broken/worn parts.
- Avoid exercise environments that have not been maintained or that have an uneven terrain (e.g. playing fields with holes).
Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons/American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons www.aaos.org/
Labels: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, AAOS, broken bones, injury prevention, protective gear, sprains, strains