Muscle Strength and Injury Prevention

What’s Abd?!!

Now that I’ve covered on Food and Nutrition, I shall now talk about preventing injury during sports. This is important because all sports, regardless participation at recreational or competitive level are highly demanding for the body. Sports involves muscle strength, power, balance and hand-eye coordination. Professionals or rookies can still be susceptible to injury and many of these injuries can be prevented.

Sports injuries can be classified into:

  • Traumatic or accidental
  • Atraumatic or overuse

The causes of the above injuries can then be further segregated into either Intrinsic or Extrinsic factors.

Intrinsic factors are unalterable inherent factors which include:

  • Bone structure and alignment
  • Foot type
  • Muscle type
  • Genetic potential (gender, age, leg length)

Extrinsic factors are external conditions:

  • Environmental conditions (lighting, temperature, terrain)
  • Training regime (mileage, speed, intensity frequency rest)
  • Sporting equipment (type, lifespan, care of footwear, suitability to terrain/ environment)

Performance enhancing and prevention of injuries is achievable by improving:

  • Cardiovascular fitness
  • Agility
  • Strength
  • Proprioception

When you first begin training, it is important for you to know that you need to build strength. Most sports will require you to run anyway. Strength training also helps you to prevent injuries, improve recovery from injuries and enhance performance.

Stronger muscles improves stride length. To build stronger muscle strength, anaerobic training such as weigh-lifting can improve a long-distance runner’s performance during speed runs and sprints. Strength training should therefore be an integral part of training. Having stronger muscles also helps control movements better, improving shock absorption and reduce stress on the joints, especially the knees and ankles.

In doing strength training, you need to ensure that your technique is correct. In general these are the following things that needs to be adhered to:

  • Perform the movements slowly and with control. Count to three with lifting and lowering. DO NOT swing the weights or use momentum to lift
  • Breathe out as you life the weight or as your exert force, breathe in as you lower the weight. DO NOT hold your breath. If you do, then the weight is too heavy for you.
  • Start low and progress slowly. Use lighter weights as beginners.
  • Always warm up before beginning training. This means ensuring that your muscles are warmed up from a variety of movements.
  • Repeat the exercise 2 – 3 times a week with about 2 days of rest in between.

You also need to know that when doing strength training, you need to identify the muscle group that you wish to build strength in. No point doing bicep curls when you want to be able to build stronger legs.

In order to see gains in strength, you need to lift a high load with low repetitions. This amount of load should allow you to be able to complete a maximum of 3 sets of 8 – 12 repetitions. If you begin to quiver, use lighter weight. Once you finish training for the day, allow your muscle to rest for a day or two before repeating the exercise. If you are crazy and want to train everyday, train alternate muscles on alternate days.

Many people when they train, they ignore the fact they also need to train their balance. Having a good balance improves your ability to control and your body posture to effectively maintain a good balance. Balance also helps minimize injuries such as sprains and twisting of joints.

Balance also helps to improve your agility and quicken your movements. With good balance, you will be more confident in activities that requires balance and your swiftness and coordination will instantaneously improve as well.

HOW DO I KNOW I HAVE GOOD BALANCE?

Simple, stand on one leg and hold that position for a minute. If you have difficulty, then need to regularly improve on your balance exercises. However, if its too easy, perform movements with your arm on one standing leg such as throwing a ball. If that’s still easy, do a single-leg half-squat.

In exercising, it is always important to note that REST and NUTRITION are key fundamentals to improvement and success. Adequate rest is required to enable the body to recover and build new tissues. Rest also improves mental alertness. Nutrition is important also as mentioned in the post earlier. Depending on the type of exercise that you engage yourself in, the type of food consumed should be complementing your exercises. Continuously hydrating yourself is important as you do not want to suffer from muscle fatigue or dehydration. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol should be avoided.

WHAT ARE STRENGTH TRAINING EXERCISES?

To build stronger Gluteals (Butts), Quadriceps (Front of your thighs) and Hamstrings (back of your thighs) muscles:

  • Stand with feet aligned to shoulder or hips apart
  • Bend your knees to lower your body
  • Keep your back straight
  • Keep knees behind toes
  • Hold a weight to add resistance

    This ultimately is – SQUATS. Just do it proper by maintaining a straight back.

To build strong calf muscles (muscles behind your shin):

  • Stand with feet comfortably apart
  • Keep body and knees straight
  • Raise your heels up
  • Slowly lower heels down

    This is – Heel Raises. Carry weights for more resistance to have calf muscles like Roberto Carlos.

You may also want to do Lunges to build leg strength and Front Plank to build strong abdominals and arms.

If you have no idea what Lunges are, take a big step forward with one leg and bend both knees ensuring that the trailing knee almost touches the ground and the front knee is at a 90 degree angle. Front Plank on the other hand is like doing a bridge on the floor with your forearms flat on the floor and your elbows are 90 degree angle facing up. Your body should be kept raised and your butt raised as well maintaining a parallel body to the ground. Keep in this position for a minute if you can.

It’s not easy I tell you!!

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