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Sports and exercise injuries

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How do I exercise safely and prevent injury?

To exercise safely, you should:
  • gradually build up how often, how long and how hard you exercise
  • learn the correct body alignment and techniques
  • warm up properly and specifically to your sport
  • fuel your body correctly and stay hydrated
  • get the right equipment
  • not do too much too soon.
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How do I tell the difference between an ache or pain and an injury?

General aches and pains are signs of tired muscles and are nothing to worry about as long as they don’t persist. But if you get pain/stiffness that comes on earlier and earlier in an exercise session or lasts for a long time, you may have an injury.

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What are the different types of injury?

There are two types of sports-related injuries:
  • overuse injuries (e.g. muscle strains, knee pain), which occur when we overstress the body’s tissues and don’t allow enough time for recovery
  • traumatic injuries (e.g. bruising, cuts, sprains), which are often the result of a fall or contact during sport.

You should get medical help if:

  • you’re in a lot of pain after 24 hours and the injury hasn’t responded to simple measures such as ice and rest
  • you think you may have a fracture or dislocation.
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How do I recover from an injury?

To recover from an injury:
  • don’t exercise in pain
  • use the PRICE principles (protection, rest, ice, compression and elevation)
  • get the right medical help
  • don’t rush back to full activity.
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Why is it important that I keep exercising?

You may be tempted to stop exercising altogether, or you may be worried about a repeat injury. However, it’s important for you to keep getting regular exercise, so you should try to get into your routine as soon as you can. One of the main risks if you stop exercising completely is becoming overweight, which puts extra strain on your joints. If you've had a major injury or ongoing medical problems, you should speak to a medical professional about starting or getting back into exercise.

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What exercise is best if I have arthritis?

If you already have arthritis, low-impact exercise is recommended for all conditions and is often used to strengthen muscles around joints to protect them. Whatever your condition, you should try to ‘listen’ to your body and take action if you experience an increase in joint pain, swelling or stiffness.

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Sports and exercise injuries Q&A

Two of our readers have their questions answered.

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