HOW TO AVOID IMPACT INJURY:
Hello and welcome to my weekly blog. Over the coming weeks I will be covering everything about being fit and being outdoors. We will be diving into the world of strength and conditioning. Recovery. Nutrition and even ways to enjoy the weather.
I can't wait to get started with the first in the series. So let's get into it:
Chapter 2: How to avoid impact injury:
Firstly, let's begin the blog by saying unfortunately no injury is 100% un avoidable. To pretend you could prevent an injury would be silly.
You can however, develop your body to be stronger, and more flexible so that it can take much more punishment and withstand injury. This blog will look at two forms of impact injury:
1: repetitive strain.
2: Impact from external sources (i.e. crashing into things).
It will look at these two forms of impact injury and explain ways you can reduce the risk of either. So, let's get into it:
1: Repetitive strain:
Repetitive strain injury is widely associated with doing the same movement over and over again, tennis elbow is probably the most commonly known form of this type of injury. But runners can also suffer from this due to the impact their body takes while they are running regularly. Especially when running on tarmac and hard ground.
While these injuries can be somewhat unavoidable there are ways you can reduce damage your body takes while running.
The first of these is stretching. Stretching is an easy, quick way to make sure your body is flexible and supple. Enabling a better range of motion and more effective muscular performance while running. The more effective your muscles move, the better they will allow your joints and connective tissue to move when running. Being rigid isn't a good idea when you constantly impact the ground. During this situation something has to give, and I can guarantee it will not be the pavement that does. This is a particularly good idea if you have joints that you know are weak.
For example: My ankle joint on my right hand side is weak, so I have to keep it strong and mobile otherwise I can easily roll it. And I am certain the only reason I haven't damaged it when I do roll it is because I stretch and strengthen it up regularly.
Moving onto strength then:
While strength training is often shied away from by runners due to fewer of becoming big and bulky. It really should be added into someone's plan. Why?
Strength training strengthens up the body (when done right) and makes it much more impact resistant. It creates stronger muscles, bones and connective tissue while allowing you to produce more force and run with more efficiency. Simple as that.
The problem with strength training lies with the trainees knowledge and style of training. A proper S&C plan will not hinder your speed or make you look like RAMBO. FACT.
Two ways you can reduce the risk of repetitive strain right there. Now, let's move onto something I have a lot of experience in, crashing into things:
2: Impact from external sources:
Crashing must be a hobby of mine because I seem to do it a lot. With that being the case it's a good idea to know that your body is in shape to crash. How do you become in shape to crash? This section of the blog will explain the importance of strength and flexibility for crashing.
Being flexible is ABSOLUTLEY ESSENTIAL if you ride any form of bike. especially off road.
If you have a serious OTB you very rarely land in a nice position. As I mentioned above during this case something has to give. If you hit a tree, a rock or the ground in a strange position you can guarantee the rock will not be the object that gives.
Being flexible allows your joints and limbs to move with a good range of movement (ROM). This can be the difference between a dislocated shoulder, and just walking out of a crash with a lot of pain.
I would 100% recommend a regular stretching routine (full body) into any mountain bikers programme for this reason. I would also recommend this for road cyclists too, as you definitely need to be ready for the worst case scenario on the road.
Moving away from flexibility let's talk about muscles:
A common saying in rugby is "muscle is the best form of armour". While you don't need to be the size of a rugby player to ride a bike, you can take this statement as advice. Having an area of muscle not only provides all the benefits mentioned above but it can also protect your joints and connective tissue from things like trees.
Again if you ride into a tree, the odds are that the tree will be the one that is standing afterwards. Having an area of strong muscle mass around your body will protect bones like the FEMUR (leg) and the HUMEROUS (arm) from impact.
Again, while you cannot fully prevent these from breaking. You can do more work to protect them.
So, if you like to kiss trees I would 100% recommend that you strengthen up your body. Road cyclists too, you are not exempt from this as cars, walls, and sheep can also put an end to your happy riding.
Again with anything revolving strength there is an aura of unease as people fear they will "bulk up". This is not the case and remember, muscle is functional weight.
So if you do gain more muscle you will also gain more WATTS, and EFFICIENCY.
Protecting you from impact but also making you a faster rider is a win win in my eyes.
Invest in a good S&C plan and you won't have to worry about looking like a bodybuilder.
I hope you have found the information in this blog useful and entertaining.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me and send them over.
Stay safe, stay outdoors.