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How to minimise injuries and support your sports recovery

As the New Year approaches, your mind often turns to resolutions to start or change a fitness routine, but one common obstacle that can sabotage an exercise regime prematurely is injury. We’ve included our top tips on how to support your sports recovery.

There can be many reasons for an injury occurring, namely:

  • Neglecting to warm up or cool down afterwards
  • Being too enthusiastic with exercise after a long period of inactivity
  • Overstretching – avoid rigorously stretching cold muscles
  • Over-exercising: not allowing periods of rest to allow muscles to grow and adapt to the new routine
  • Bad form: incorrect posture while lifting weights or using the wrong muscle groups
  • Impact injury: i.e. running on tarmac increases wear and tear to knees and joints
  • Exercising beyond exhaustion: pushing too far too fast

Luckily there are many preventative measures you can take to ensure these common mistakes don’t get the better of you or your progress!

If you’re warming up, keep it gentle and loose. The purpose of a warm-up is to raise your core temperature, activate muscles and loosen tissues around the joints to increase their range of motion.

Warm-ups and cool-downs

Effective warmups include:

  • Skipping with a rope
  • Jumping jacks
  • Lunges and squats
  • Gentle jog or brisk walk
  • Side bends, leg bends and swings

When you’ve finished exercising, you need to cool down your muscles to bring your heart rate down and minimise stiffness the next day. If you’ve been running or doing other cardio exercise, slow down and do more leisurely repetitions. Then:

  • Brace against a wall and do some calf and hamstring stretches
  • Add standing quad stretches and a forward bend

If you’ve been doing bodywork, other good stretches include:

  • Cat-cow stretch
  • Child’s pose
  • Shoulder stretch
  • Hip flexor stretch

Other important precautions

If you’re starting a new form of exercise for the first time, consider training with a more experienced friend. If you’re hitting the gym or weight training, seek out a recommended personal trainer for some one-to-one sessions so you learn the correct form.

Learn to pace yourself, and work with your breath to ensure you’re not pushing beyond what is comfortable. Generally, it is recommended to inhale through the nose, so air enters your chest and belly, just before the ‘eccentric’ (muscle-lengthening) part of the motion, and to exhale through your mouth during the ‘concentric’ (muscle-shortening) part of the motion. If you become out of breath, it’s a sure sign you’re overdoing it.

For high-impact sport and fitness, ensure you are wearing the correct impact-absorbing footwear.

Sports recovery 101

Assess how serious it is. If your range of motion is severely compromised and you can’t move without severe pain, or the injury is swollen and discoloured, you may need to seek medical treatment.

If it is something you can treat at home, remember these steps:

RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

  • REST: Avoid putting weight on the injured area for 24 – 48 hours. Resting also prevents any further bruising.
  • ICE: Apply an ice pack or a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a towel. Ice the area for 15 minutes every 2 – 3 hours during the first 24 to 48 hours after injury.
  • COMPRESSION: Wrap the injured area to prevent swelling, for example with an elastic medical bandage. Make sure it is not too tight, or it will restrict blood flow.
  • ELEVATION: Using cushions, keep the injured body part above the level of your heart to reduce pain and swelling.

Additional methods to support sports recovery

Finally, once the injury has passed the acute stage, you can use some additional methods to provide soothing relief:

CBD oil is derived from the cannabis plant, and acts on the body’s own endocannabinoid system to support pain and inflammation. Although it can be taken orally, for more local support it can be used transdermally, since there are cannabinoid receptors throughout the body—even on the skin.

Try OSI Magnesium CBD Cream in 100mg or 300mg: a strong antioxidant cream with full-spectrum organic CBD oil, shea butter and sweet almond oil, for soothing relief. Magnesium helps support cellular regeneration and repair, unwinds tight and tense muscles and joints, and together magnesium and CBD support a healthy response to inflammation.

Another great choice for soothing bruised, inflamed and painful limbs is to soak in magnesium bath flakes. These provide transdermal magnesium to restore cellular levels at the same time as encouraging the muscles and fascia around the injured area to relax. Try OSI Magnesium Muscle Relax Bath Flakes with Eucalyptus; the essential oil is uplifting and restorative, while the magnesium encourages deep rest and healing.

As you start to heal, you can do gentle stretches and movement to recover your range of motion, but always be guided by your body, and don’t rush the process or you’ll be back to square one!