It’s that time of the year when more and more residents choose to get involved in sports activities or join a gym in an attempt to take control of their lifestyle, maintain health, and achieve their ideal body shape.
While we are drawn to the idea of joining community marathons, group exercises or fun matches, especially as the weather improves, we tend to put ourselves at risk of injuries simply due to carelessness or poor preparation before starting a new hobby.
Common sports injuries
According to Amna Malik Usman, certified Physiotherapist at the Pure European and Chiropractic Centre, Dubai, some of the most common workout injuries are — shin splints due to overstressed front lower leg muscles and poor arch; knee pain or more specifically, patellofemoral pain syndrome caused by improper knee alignment during weight training; and rotator cuff injury from poor form and repetitive overhead movements.
“Many also suffer from low back strain caused by intense training and tennis elbow caused by sudden twisting or excessive wrist flexion that leads to injury to the tendon. The word ‘injury’ is enough to strike fear and create a lack of confidence into the heart of any active or inactive person and athlete,” she adds. If left untreated, this could lead to further complications in the long term.
To reduce risks and enjoy a comfortable experience, here are some points to note:
Dedicate time for warm-ups (and cool-downs!)
A warm-up of at least five to 10 minutes increases blood flow and oxygen to the muscles, which boosts flexibility. This means your body will be able to take on more load at ease while significantly reducing the chances of cramps, sprains and other injuries.
“One of the common mistakes is that people jump straight into an activity or lift free weights without proper warm-up. It’s very important to prepare your muscles, joints and cardiovascular system before you do strenuous exercises like lifting weights,” says Ivan Vasiucovici, a Dubai-based certified Fitness Coach and Personal Trainer at the Warehouse Gym, who has been involved in bodybuilding and strength training for over 13 years.
Similarly, cool down with stretches or a light walk after activities. It gives the body a chance to gradually bring the heart rate to a resting pace and steadies blood pressure and body temperature. This also prevents next-day cramps and headaches caused by a rise in pressure.
Invest in the right gear
Vasiucovici points out that investing in correct sportswear and equipment should be on the same wavelength as the mindset of getting fit. The right-fitting gear improves performance, giving you more value for the time and effort you put into each sport, boosts stability and cushions the body from stress and strain. Shoes, in particular, play an important role, especially when it comes to weight training.
“At times, I see people doing squats in slippers, which is very dangerous,” he adds. This leaves your feet vulnerable to bruises, cuts and accidents. Compared to ordinary sneakers, athletic shoes are ideal because they are designed to distribute the weight of the body, cushion blows and provide stability.
Focus on prevention and health management
It is important to follow the right form or technique in sports — from maintaining posture to breathing rhythm and overall coordination.
”Sport is not just to have a good physique. It also helps you to stay physically and mentally strong,” says Vasiucovici. This is why he emphasises proper recovery if injured. This means good sleep, good food, enough rest between your sessions, lots of stretching and physiotherapy at least twice a month.
Usman adds: “Physiotherapists are trained to deal with these injuries with proper form and a selection of exercises that not only help in pain management but also strengthens the affected areas of your body, help you understand your injury in a better way and avoid any future injuries.”
Vasiucovici also advises signing up for regular health check-ups.
“People tend to wait until they start to experience pain or other issues with their body. I recommend doing a full body check-up every six months, along with hormone and blood tests,” he says.
If you are a beginner or return to a sport after a long break, start with a very low-intensity training and then gradually increase the number of sessions, intensity and frequency.
“Remember, well-being is a marathon, not a sprint. If you want to last long in sports or workout for a long time, you need to train smart,” says Vasiucovici.