The human body can deal with huge amounts of stress and strain, hence the ability to push our bodies to the limit, whether it is to conquer Everest or train for that 10km run we have always wanted to do.

Whatever your sporting ambition it is important to remember that although the body is generally robust, it needs time to adapt to a different state of fitness.

Increasing exercise too quickly, training too hard too soon, or not allowing for sufficient rest and recovery is depriving the body of the ADAPTATION time that it needs which can often lead to injury.

A basic example of how adaptation time has been incorporated into sport is pre-season training.

At my clinic the negative results of rushing into things are often seen more in men than women. It may be due to the male macho psyche that we believe we are capable of doing now, what we haven’t done for a number of years, with little preparation and training. It may also be our hunter gatherer instinct that gets us to push ourselves harder than our bodies are ready for. Whatever the reason, if you ignore the basic adaptation rules for exercise, there is a much greater risk that you will get injured.

Things can be even worse if started from a relative state of inactivity. One of the big problems with modern life and specifically the workplace is that much time is spent in static positions, placing postural strain on the body and increasing the general tightness of the muscles.

The human body was built for movement and as such, inactivity in the form of sitting at a desk, in meetings or on an airplane, can be as bad for you, if not worse than overdoing the exercise.

So what’s the answer, I do nothing and suffer postural tightness? I do sport and risk getting injured?

The answer is balance, maintain activities to counter the postural strain, whether it be swimming, playing sport or taking part in a triathlon but allow the time to adapt and prepare yourself for the activity.

There are some simple ways you can try to avoid injury in this way;

GET FIT to PLAY SPORT don’t PLAY SPORT TO GET FIT- It’s always useful to do some general cardiovascular training prior to playing that first football match or squash game (it will also help to reduce that “ran over by a bus” feeling that you experience for a few days after playing).

USE a TRAINING PLAN/ GET PROFESSIONAL COACHING- there are a number of fitness training programs and online coaching sites available on the internet and in magazines, tailored for different sports and varying abilities. There are also many qualified coaches available for a whole variety of sports.

LISTEN TO YOUR BODY- probably the hardest one to do. I see numerous patients who tell me the problem has been ‘getting worse for a while’ or ‘it didn’t feel right’. This is the body’s way of warning you that there is a problem.

STRETCH- I am not suggesting you become a yoga guru, but even 5 minutes of stretching after exercise or sport can reduce soreness and the risk of injury.

Paul Bell – Osteopath

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