Been a bit, ahem, relaxed about your workout routine over the summer? We hear you.
The searing heat keeps all but the most hardened of fitness fans from their usual outdoor activities. And, yes, the treadmill at the gym can get pretty boring at times. But if it’s the suddenly-more-than-a-niggle back pain or never-been-this-bad-before knee twinge that’s stopping you from slipping back into your training gear as the weather cools, now’s the time to consult an expert and find out what needs to be done to fix it.
We all know that keeping physically fit as you get older is important. Indeed, recent research has revealed that as the pandemic rolls on, more and more of the over 40s have become more physically active than ever before – a teeny silver lining to all the misery COVID-19 brought with it. But while staying active or starting a new fitness plan when you’re that little bit older is never a bad thing, ageing is the biggest contributor to a higher incidence of sports injuries in the over-40s, which is why you need to listen to your body even more carefully than usual if it starts to complain.
Physiological changes in the body due to ageing include muscle loss, less elasticity in the tendons and muscles, joint stiffening, limited range of motion, and increased reaction time. And as ageing muscles also lose their endurance, they are more susceptible to – and take longer to heal from – injuries. So while exercise is undoubtedly the best remedy to reduce muscle loss, the natural ageing process means that it’s inevitable that these muscles will lose some strength and endurance, which means that keeping on top of any new aches and pains is vital. But who should you go to to get these kind of issues addressed before they become a real problem? Step forward to your new best friend: the sports physiotherapist.
Admittedly, many people don’t ever find out what great things a sports physiotherapist does (and can do!) for your body until they actually need one, which often means there’s an injury that needs to be remedied. But if you’re healthy, active, and like doing sports, having a physiotherapist as part of your team of go-to health experts can help ensure that the potential of getting injured is significantly reduced – the number one priority of every athlete on the planet. So what can a physiotherapist do for you? We asked Nightingale Health Services physiotherapists Roxanne Francis and Mohamed Al Shawbrawy for the 101 on sports physio – your gammy knee and creaky hips can thank us later!
What does a physiotherapist do?
Physiotherapists promote, maintain, or restore health through physical examination, diagnosis, patient education, manual therapy, and rehabilitative exercise programmes.
Do I need a physiotherapist if I’m exercising regularly?
Yes. Both physiotherapy and chiropractic can treat and manage pain and stiffness in your body, especially post-training, by using non-invasive and non-surgical techniques like sports stretching, ultrasound, cold therapy, and some other manual techniques. This can be especially beneficial if you have embarked on a new training regime or are increasing your level of training for a big race, for example.
What should I be particularly mindful of when I’m exercising?
- Prepare your mind before your body – training without being prepared mentally can cause stress, and it can get to the body later on.
- Create a purpose every time you exercise.
- Take it slow.
How do I know if I need a physiotherapist?
If you begin experiencing pain, decreased mobility, or discomfort during your exercise regime, you should consider consulting a physiotherapist. Treating a muscular strain, ligament sprain, or joint stiffness early can prevent further injury going forward, leading to a worsened prognosis and more time off from sport and exercise. The therapist’s aim is to restore a patient’s previous levels of mobility, strength, and function and return to action.
Is feeling any kind of pain during exercise okay?
While some level of soreness after exercise is common – especially if you haven’t trained in a while – strong, sharp, or persistent pain that develops while you are exercising is a cause for concern. Pain during physical activity is a signal that you are putting too much strain on a muscle or tendon and should stop in order to prevent an injury. Listen to your body and don’t ‘push through’. Stop immediately!
What happens during a physiotherapy treatment ?
A physiotherapy session should comprise a comprehensive assessment of your current problem while taking into account your previous medical history. Once a diagnosis has been made, treatment will include restoring optimal function to the relevant musculature, mobility to joints, increasing muscle strength, and returning to previous activities. Various modalities may be used, such as myofascial release, peripheral and spinal joint mobilisation, electrotherapy, dry needling, taping, and rehabilitative exercise prescription.
Watch the Video: Basic Exercises for Stretching and Releasing Muscle Spasm
How do I minimise the chance of getting injured during exercise?
- Warm up and cool down.
- Stretch before and after.
- Choose your exercise wisely.
- Use the right equipment.
- Learn good form.
How can I get back into training after an injury?
- Take it slow! It’s easy to want to go back to exactly what you were doing before an injury put you out, but not so quick!
- Begin with very mild, general training.
- Work on your balance.
- Eat well and keep hydrated.
- Consider getting help from a physiotherapist for the rehabilitation programme.
What tips should I follow to ensure I don’t injure myself while exercising?
- Take time off.
- Wear the right gear.
- Strengthen muscles.
- Increase flexibility.
- Use the proper technique.
- Take breaks.
- Train safe.
- Do not train through pain.
- Always consult a sports physiotherapist.
For more information about sports physiotherapy at Nightingale Health Services, call 04 320 3847 or e-mail [email protected].