Exercise right

Exercise right

1. ATTIRE

Just because it is expensive doesn't mean it is good. Buy attire that is comfortable and functional. Runners should ideally wear breathable and lightweight attire, which allows cooling down of the body, particularly in humid weather. And they need not be expensive.

Proper socks are equally important. Many people spend a lot of money on the latest footwear with scant attention to the socks worn with them - the difference is potential injury.

2. EQUIPMENT

The right equipment keeps you from harm's way - those who play hockey without shin pads or ball-guard will attest to this. This is particularly important in the older athlete who is less nimble in getting out of risky situations.

The correct type of equipment, i.e. racquet, golf club or hockey stick will prevent both acute injuries and the more common injuries arising from overuse. This is particularly the case in weekend/recreational athletes.

3. TECHNIQUE

Most weekend and recreational athletes think they have it all figured out. While it is true that some of them may have been playing a particular sport for years, the techniques of most sports evolve as sports medicine brings about newer concepts in therapy and preventive strategies. Even the playing surface has changed with the times. Therefore, techniques have to be re-learnt. And when re-learning a particular technique, the trick is to break it down into small manageable steps and gradually moving onto the new technique as a whole. This is very effective in preventing injuries.

4. INTENSITY

Control the intensity of your exercise. Don't try to keep up with the younger, more conditioned athlete. This does not mean that the recreational athlete needs to just roll over and give in. It simply means that a more sensible approach involving a gradual increase in intensity and frequency can allow for a sport to be enjoyed for a longer period. The idea is to enjoy the game and not injure oneself doing it.

Just to put a practical spin to this idea, in weightlifting, the oft-quoted protocol is increasing your load between 10 and 15 per cent weekly. For the recreational athlete, it would be wise to keep this at 10 per cent, you will ultimately get there too.

5. THE REST-PLAY CYCLE

Having a good play-rest cycle allows for adequate recovery. This is particularly effective in preventing overuse injuries, which occur during repeated activity of a part, at non-maximal load. It is the frequency that causes the injury and not the intensity of the load.

On the rest day, it is not necessary to stop exercising completely. However, it is advisable to carry out exercises that involve different muscle groups. This, in turn, introduces variety and fun in your activities.

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