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The Best Sports and Exercises to Avoid Injury

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The human body is made to move, and physical activity is a requirement for lifelong health. But exercise-related injuries are a significant concern few people think about until it’s too late. Even a mild sprain can sideline an athlete for weeks, and a sports-related injury can be debilitating for an older adult. “I think a lot of people, especially those in their 20s and 30s, are interested in doing a lot of exercise but they’re not really thinking about injuries,” says Dr. Brian Werner, an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist at the University of Virginia.

Running, for example, is among the most popular forms of exercise in America. But up to half of all runners are injured each year, according to a 2010 study in Current Sports Medicine Reports. “I’m a long-distance runner myself, but it’s a high-impact form of exercise and it’s not optimal for people trying to avoid getting hurt,” Werner says. Also, many runners tend to overdo it. When it comes to running’s longevity benefits, researchers have found that running two or three times per week at a slow or moderate pace is optimal.

Especially for those age 40 and older, exercises that place heavy amounts of stress on the knees, shoulders and other joints are going to come with a high risk of injury, Werner says. Examples he raises are basketball, soccer, tennis, or other sports that involve lots of jumping, twisting, or quick changes of direction.

That’s not to say these activities are unhealthy, or that people who enjoy them should give them up. A recent study in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings found that, compared to solo exercise pursuits, activities that involve spending time with others are associated with longer life expectancies. Studies have independently linked both exercise and social interaction with longer lifespans, so it makes sense that combining the two would be beneficial. But while healthy, many of these activities nonetheless carry a high risk for injury.

Why Swimming Is So Good For You

Every type of exercise has its selling points, but swimming is unlike any other aerobic workout in a few important ways
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Scientists Have Found Water Inside Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano. It Could Trigger Explosive Eruptions. If a person’s goal is to minimize those risks while still getting all the health and longevity benefits of exercise, experts highlight walking and swimming as two low-risk, high-reward pursuits. “Unless you’re swimming competitively or for hours every day, it’s easy on the joints,” says Dr. Kyle Yost, a sports medicine specialist at the University of Maryland Medical Center. Swimming also combines aerobic exercise and resistance training, meaning it improves fitness and strength, he says.

Walking, meanwhile, is associated with both long life and a reduced risk for medical-related expenditures, according to a 2011 study in BMJ Open. A recent study found that brisk walking is especially healthy. “Walking is an outdoor activity that can include spending time with other people, and I think any exercise that combines those two things is going to be very healthy,” says Dr. James O’Keefe, a cardiologist and medical director of the Cardio Health & Wellness Center at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute.

Yoga also garners some shout-outs as a low-risk, high-reward form of physical activity. “It has to be done correctly and with good supervision, especially when just starting out, but I think yoga offers a great combination of flexibility and strength training,” says Dr. Steven Struhl, an orthopedic surgeon at NYU Langone Health. Flexibility is a “neglected” component of proper health and fitness, he says. “It improves balance and reduces stiffness, which leads to strains or injury.”

For fitness enthusiasts who recoil at the idea of a life filled with long walks and yoga, there are ways to lower the injury risks associated with more intense, high-impact sports.

The first tip may induce some yawns. But experts say a moderate approach to any sport or workout is a good way to avoid getting hurt. “Overtraining leads to a lot of injuries,” says Yost. If you’re playing the same sport or doing the same type of exercise every day—and especially if you’re pushing yourself hard—you’re asking for trouble.

Taking it easy at the start and slowly working your way up to more intense workouts is another safety measure. “A lot of people start off too heavy or with too much volume,” O’Keefe says. If you’re intent on running a half-marathon, for example, sign up for next year’s—not this year’s—and try to mix in some other non-running forms of exercise (swimming, yoga) to build your strength and endurance.

Finally, don’t neglect your core. “You get your power from your core, and if it’s weak, you tend to overuse your arms or legs, which leads to injury,” Struhl says. Pilates classes can improve your core strength. So can gym machines that target your upper and lower back, obliques, and abdominal muscles, he says.

All that said, if you’re looking for safe, healthy activities that will lower your risks for injuries—as well as for disease and mortality—easy-on-your-body activities like walking, yoga and swimming are great options.

By Markham Heid

Source: https://time.com/

 

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Skipping Is The Best Exercise You Can Do To Become A Better Runner – Laura Hill

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Most running training plans include cross-training sessions to increase aerobic fitness and strengthen muscles. Cross-training helps athletes run faster by increasing fitness, power and efficiency, and it’s also credited with reducing injuries and accelerating injury rehabilitation.

But if you want to really get your blood pumping and your muscles firing, try skipping.

According to the International Sports Conditioning Association, skipping can improve your speed, agility, power, endurance, balance and coordination, all of which are must-haves for running. Skipping works your calves, glutes and quads as well as your shoulders, chest, back and triceps from turning the rope.

Moving meditation

Personal trainer and presenter Lauren Vickers calls running her meditation in motion.

“I try to incorporate running into most of my workouts,” she says.

“My knees have endured many years of high heels, so I can’t run as far as I used to, but I love incorporating some short cardio burners in my outdoor training one to two times a week, with sprints and shuttle runs in between sets.”

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Vickers is a big fan of skipping as a cross-training exercise for runners and anyone wanting a physical challenge.

“Skipping seems like a simple exercise, but it can quickly become extremely challenging,” says Vickers.

“While skipping is gentle on the body, it’s high in intensity. You can really tire yourself out skipping, and consistent skipping will help to improve your strength, endurance and coordination.”

Never skip it

In fact, an Arizona University study found that a 10-minute daily program of skipping is as good as a 30-minute daily program of jogging for improvement of cardiovascular efficiency.

Other research has shown that skipping can not only reduce tension but also raise energy levels. Subjects taking part in a study at Illinois University were monitored while skipping during a 60-minute workout, five-days a week, over ten-weeks. The results included greater leg and knee strength, an increase in calf size, better jumping ability, and faster running speed. Subjects also became more agile and flexible, and their hearts became stronger.

All-round exercises

Vickers loves skipping as a form of cross-training because it can be done anywhere. Vickers loves skipping as a form of cross-training because it can be done anywhere. Her own personal preference of rope is Unit Nine’s sweat plus pack.

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“[It] includes a skipping rope, resistance bands, trigger ball and towel – making it the perfect on-the-go training kit to help me perform a skipping workout at home, the gym, work or at a hotel.”

Vickers says skipping helps runners get used to planting their feet directly underneath their body, and helps to reduce the length of time their feet touch the ground with each step.

“Skipping is a low-impact, effective way to build your running endurance and strengthen the muscles that you use while running without your joints bearing too much load. It also helps to build calf, ankle and foot strength,” adds Vickers.

Do it right

Like any other exercise, runners should warm-up for a skipping workout by getting the glutes and abdominal muscles firing. Give these three exercises a go:

Slide a short resistance band around your ankles and perform 20 crab walks forward and 20 backwards.

Place the resistance band above your knees, lie on your back with knees bent and perform 10 glute bridges.

Using a long resistance band, hold the band at tension with your arms shoulder width apart straight out in front of you. Brace your core and keeping the tension, move the band in halo motions clockwise first, then anti-clockwise for 10 repetitions in each direction.

Once warm, hop to these short skipping workouts:

Workout 1

Warm up for two minutes at an easy skipping pace, and then progress to five sets of interval skipping:

  • One minute easy pace
  • 30 seconds sprint pace
  • One minute side to side skipping
  • 30 seconds high knees skipping

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Workout 2

Warm up for two minutes at an easy skipping pace, and then progress to eight rounds of tabata skipping:

  • 20 seconds sprint pace
  • 10 seconds rest
  • Rest for one minute and repeat the sequence one more time.

The goal of one day completing an ultra-marathon inspires running fanatic Laura Hill to clock up the kilometres each week. With a day job in the corporate world, Laura loves nothing more than lacing up her runners and hitting the pavement to clear her mind and challenge her body.

 

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