This article is also available on http://www.urbanfreeflow.com/the_core_level/pages/archives/injury.htm
Injury prevention is doing everything you can not to get injured in the course of normal activity. It focuses on all areas of training. There include using the right shoe, building in rest days, strength training, warm up and down and so on. Other areas to focus on are the health and safety aspects involved particularly in an activity like parkour.
Generally physiotherapists are brought in like fire fighters being employed in emergencies and not generally considered an important part of the regime. Most injuries up to 50% are in new area’s which mean the other 50% are unresolved injuries that result from the injury never being dealt with properly in the first place.
But people only care about injury when it happens, with proper planning and management it can be reduced and in most cases totally avoided. John Smith does freerunning at weekends with his friends. He has poor flexibility levels; he drinks too much and goes to college and plays Xbox360 in the evenings or is out with his mates. Before throwing himself around housing blocks for 5 or 6 hours Saturday and Sunday. We can be safe in knowledge that john will end up at the physio’s with back/hamstring/knee/ankle problems that need to be addressed; a scenario that I’m finding with a lot of people involved with freerunning and parkour practitioners.
Lack of a culture of preventative training. Performer too focused on getting bigger and better tricks and techniques and not focussed on fitness and flexibility levels
Improper handling of previous injury, wrong treatment or inappropriate treatment. E.g physio has’nt looked at the whole of the person just the injury site.
Injury isn’t given time to heal, too much of rush to return to activity
A programme is needed whereby the practitioner treats themselves like a formula 1 race car. In these environments the car is designed, cared for and tuned on a constant basis and it would be stupid of a racing team to wait until a car breaks down before they perform any maintenance.
Parkour and freerunning need to create a culture in which prevention of injury is understood as an need for intelligent skill training focus, strength training, flexibility and mobility work, mindset and good diet, if these things are kept in sync you should hardly ever have to trouble a physio with your problems.
Intelligent skill training focus means, having a planned and progressive training session in mind. As many workshop coaches will tell you skill training needs to be gradual. No point going from wall hops to 10 foot drops and summersaults off bins in only one month. Risk of injury becomes very high when you start tackling techniques way outside of your skill range. Additionally this also means not over training skill work because this can lead to increased injury risk, through fatigue and repetitive strain injuries. Studies have shown that you’re more likely to get injured when tired.
Strength training is a corner stone to injury prevention, without enough strength a lot of parkour techniques will be out of your reach. But more importantly being strong means you can jump higher and recover for impacts from such jumps and movement. Having the strength to decelerate and change direction quickly can make the difference between suffering an injury and not. Being strong will also help if you do become injured, it will allow for faster recover and reduce injury impact.
FLEXIBILITY AND MOBILITY
Flexibility and mobility are probably some of the most overlooked facets of injury prevention. This are defined as the ability to achieve a full range of movements – to turn, stretch, twist and bend – without any stiffness, aching or suffering a spine or joint injury. To have greater mobility means that muscles and tendons are not so tight as to become damaged when we try and move or to impede our movement. If our movement is impeded this means we might not be able to clear an object or move correctly to absorb force from a jump or fall. Flexibility also allows us to keep muscles balanced so that no one area is too tight which can cause bad posture and consequently bad movement.
The rationale behind this is that there are detectable and correctable abnormalities of muscle strength and length that are fundamental to the development of almost all musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. Detection of these abnormalities and correction before injury has occurred should be part of any injury prevention strategy. Keeping this in mind flexibility and strength training go hand in hand to maximise the health of muscle tissue. When muscles or tendons become torn or damaged other muscles tighten to ensure joint protection. So maintaining flexibility and mobility post injury is important for preventing re-injury.
Diet plays an underlying role in injury prevention, eating the right foods can aid recovery, decrease inflammation, aid sleep and prevent fatigue. Making sure post and pre training meals are in order is important. For example eating a lot of sugary snacks before training will only cause an energy spike and subsequent fall which could lead to a lack in concentration which could lead to injury. Making sure you get enough essential fats is important for reducing inflammation around joints and keeping tendinitis at bay.
Some studies have shown that athletes who are aggressive, tense, and compulsive have a higher risk of injury than their relaxed peers do. Tension may make muscles and tendons tighter, increasing the risk that they will be harmed during workouts.
NEVER DO TOO MUCH
The amount of training you carry out plays a key role in determining your real injury risk. Studies have shown that your best direct injury predictor may be the amount of training you completed last month. Fatigued muscles do a poor job of protecting their associated connective tissues, increasing the risk of damage to bone, cartilage, tendons and ligaments.
If you have been injured before then you are much more likely to get hurt than an athlete who has been injury free. Regular exercises have a way of uncovering the weak areas of the body. If you have knees that are put under heavy stress, because of your unique biomechanics during exercises, your knees are likely to hurt when you engage in your sport for a prolonged time.
TOO LITTLE TOO LATE
Many people only think about injury when they’re suffering it, the risk of injury should always be planned for in training, in order to keep it at a minimum. No one likes getting injured it means more time away from doing what we enjoy and it means the risk of re-injury is greater. Obviously some catastrophic injuries are unavoidable and different sports increase or lower this risk. But more people need to think about what causes those niggling injuries those injuries that could have/should have been avoided.