As a chiropractor specializing in sport related injuries a question I get asked all the time is "how do I avoid getting injured?" This is an incredibly complex question, and to be honest there really isn't a simple answer. Everyone is unique from their physical attributes, lifestyle, goals, etc and to be brutally honest if your chiropractor isn't taking the time to really understand these things about you, you're in the wrong spot.
While there isn't a simple answer to this question, there are some really impactful areas to explore. The answer you probably don't want to hear is that there isn't anything you can do to completely eliminate injury risk. Injuries are a completely normal part of an active lifestyle BUT reducing your risk is absolutely something you should be doing and these tips can help just do that (along with helping you recover from injuries faster).
1. Get Adequate QUALITY Sleep- Goal minimum 7 hours/night, optimal 8-9 hours
I like to think about sleep like refilling your gas tank, and as athletes/active individuals it is imperative to have a full tank of gas going into the day. Quality sleep is foundational for overall health and plays a crucial role in both injury prevention, and recovery of your body between training sessions. During sleep, your body undergoes repair and regeneration. Lack of sleep can compromise your immune system and increase the risk of injuries. Ensure you get 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night to support your body's natural healing processes.
Additional tips: limit screen time prior to sleep (ideally no screens at least 1 hour before sleep), limit overhead light exposure in hour before bed, No eating 1 hour before bed and ideally last big meal at least 2 hours prior to sleep, consistent sleep and wake times.
2. Proper Nutrition and Hydration:
Fuel your body with the right nutrients to support muscle function and tissue repair. Adequate hydration is equally important for maintaining joint lubrication and preventing muscle cramps. A well-balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals contributes to overall musculoskeletal health.
As active individuals our bodies need adequate intake of protein- recommended intake is 1.2-2g per kg of body weight daily. Unsure if you are getting adequate ratios of macros (carbs, protein, fat)? Track it- this is a really simple, yet incredibly insightful way to gauge your daily intake and adjust moving forward as needed. There are tons of apps and programs available for this such as SparkPeople which has a huge database of foods available to accurately measure what your consuming day to day https://sparkamerica.com/peopleonehealth-app/
3. Load Management - Finding the Right Balance:
As a chiropractor I see lots of injuries that could be avoided with adequate load management- most injuries result of doing too much too soon (most common with athletes) or too little too often (more common in those new to activity OR athletes returning from a long break i.e. summer) Whether you're engaging in a new fitness routine or returning to sports activities, it's crucial to manage the load on your body. Avoid sudden spikes in intensity and incorporate rest days into your training schedule. There is a time and place for putting the pedal to the metal with training BUT you will breakdown if you are doing this consistently in training.
De-loading weeks are a great way to avoid overtraining while also not falling out of your fitness routine- give your body a break every 4-6 weeks i.e. 4-weeks of gradual increases in your weekly training volume (volume= sets x reps x weight)- aim for roughly 10% increase per week, and then drop that 50% for a deloading week (typically done by reducing weights lifted). Gradual progression allows your body to adapt and reduces the risk of overuse injuries such as tendinitis, adequate de-loading allows your body to recover from training and come back to your regular volume stronger and better prepared.
4. Sport-Specific Training Programs:
Tailor your training regimen to the specific demands of your chosen sport or activity. Don't know how to do this? Trust an expert and hire a strength coach or come by the office and I can help you understand the basics of program development or even help put together a program for you. As a chiropractor with a degree in kinesiology and a long history of strength and conditioning I am uniquely positioned to help assess your unique needs and body limitations and help develop a training program tailored to you. A customized training program will help to enhance your performance, reduce the risk of injuries, and addresses any biomechanical imbalances.
5. Regular Maintenance with Your Chiropractor:
Don't wait for pain to seek care for aches and pains or even general stiffness. If you have a trusted professional that can help with this great, if not I am uniquely positioned as a chiropractor with diverse training to help with this. Generally people think of chiropractic care as a 5-minute treatment consisting solely of spinal adjustments, same treatment every time rinse and repeat. This absolutely should not be the case, and if this has been your experience come visit our Airdrie clinic to see what patient centered care should look like.
Each appointment should start with a check in both on your reporting about issues which may be occurring, followed by a brief assessment to identify areas of concern. Treatment shouldn't look the exact same at every appointment and definitely not the same between different patients- our bodies are all unique, and session to session things change and so too should your treatment. Regular check-ups can identify potential issues before they become more serious injuries that can impact your ability to perform or continue activity. As a chiropractor specializing in sports and rehabilitation your treatments in our office will be a combination of adjustments, soft tissue work, and exercises tailored to your unique needs to help keep your body strong and moving well between appointments.
Incorporating these five tips into your lifestyle can significantly contribute to injury prevention and enhance your overall well-being. Remember, a proactive approach to musculoskeletal health is key. If you're in the Airdrie Alberta area and looking for a chiropractor, book an appointment today to get the support you deserve on your journey to a healthier, more active life.