Prophylaxis

Avoid painful injuries by taking simple precautions
 

Our supportive and musculoskeletal system supports us through our lives. However, just one wrong movement, strain or fall can cause pain. Fortunately, taking small precautions, which we have summarised in this article, can considerably lower the risk of injuries occurring and can be applied to the home and even the workplace.

 

How can we protect our joints?

Joints are the hinges of our bodies, which require regular exercise to remain healthy. They ensure that we can bend and stretch our rigid skeleton at the right places using our  tendons and ligaments. That’s why it’s vital to know how we can protect them.

Everyday strain pushes the liquid out of the cartilage, the shock absorbers of our joints. In subsequent resting phases, the cartilage fills up with fluid again, just like a squeezed sponge, and can continue to support our joints. However, important nutrients can only be transported to our joints through sufficient exercise. Only this will keep the cartilage flexible. Metaphorically speaking, exercise keeps our hinges lubricated.

Our joints are predominantly strained by excessive weight. Even while simply walking, the musculoskeletal system has to withstand six times the strain of every individual kilo of our body weight. With regular, gentle exercise, we not only improve our fitness, but the resulting weight loss also helps to keep our joints healthy and supple by reducing weight-related strain. At the same time, muscles and tendons are strengthened which, in turn, can help to improve the stabilisation of our joints. Additionally, we can prevent excessive strain on our joints by using orthopaedic supports.

 

Light cycling is an ideal sport that is easy on the joints.Light cycling is an ideal sport that is easy on the joints.

How can I protect my joints while exercising?

To avoid overloading your joints during exercise, there are a few important things you need to keep in mind. You should sufficiently warm up before any physical activity to prepare the body for exercise and to prevent injuries. When doing new exercises, you should always make sure you execute the movements correctly.

Sports like swimming or cycling are considered to be particularly gentle on the joints and are, therefore, also suitable for those new to exercise. With these types of exercise, our body doesn’t have to carry its entire weight itself and can build up muscle without straining the joints at the same time.

This isn't the case for some other exercises like running. When going for a run, we should avoid straining our joints excessively by running on soft ground more frequently, such as on grass. Running shoes with sufficient shock absorption can also ease the stress on the joints. For those new to running, it is advised that you start by alternating between walking and jogging so that the musculoskeletal system can slowly become accustomed to the new challenges. Once jogging feels easier, the strain can be slowly increased.

 

What happens when you build up muscles?

Our muscles are unique - they adapt to new movements and situations and in response to physical stress quickly and thereby allow us to continue moving in a variety of circumstances. This adaptability can be specifically utilised for systematic training, such as when working on developing abdominal and back muscles. 

For us to walk upright and move without pain throughout our daily lives, we need many different muscles. Frequent static standing or sitting in our everyday working life causes our muscles to become less strong. Back pain, which is a widespread and commonly reported problem, usually develops when the spine isn’t sufficiently supported by the abdominal and back muscles. If the muscles aren’t being trained enough in this area or if there is an imbalance, even actions that involve minor stress like lifting or carrying can quickly cause pain. Such pain can be easily prevented through targeted training. But how does this muscle development work?

When we experience heavy strain, our body reacts by adapting. Within the muscle, the damage caused by a training stimulus is repaired which can manifest itself in aching muscles. On top of this, our body begins to build up additional muscle elements as a precautionary measure which work like power plants in our muscles. If their number is increased through training, more energy becomes available and the muscle becomes more powerful.

But beware of fast, excessive muscle development! Tendons, ligaments and bones adapt to strain much more slowly, only after up to a year. Our articular cartilage, however, cannot adapt. That is why there’s a risk of overexertion or chronic pain. Therefore, intense training should always be supervised.

 

How do you relax your muscles?

Various relaxation techniques can be very helpful for our muscles. For example, massages or sauna sessions can help to relieve tension in our muscles. Acupuncture treatment also helps to loosen tense muscles.

In addition to this, we can also consciously tense and relax various body parts with exercises. By doing this, you can not only improve your body awareness, but the technique also helps to loosen tension. Special breathing exercises and avoiding stress can also improve your overall well-being.

 

Gentle stretching can prepare the muscles for exercise.Gentle stretching can prepare the muscles for exercise.

Short relaxation exercises at work

In addition to doing sports in your spare time, you can also do short relaxation exercises at work to energise yourself for the rest of the day. Give it a try and treat your back and neck muscles to a little relaxation!

  • Place your hands on your thighs and breathe deeply and regularly. Slowly place your chin onto your chest and let the shoulders hang loose. By doing this, your back slightly bends forward. Hold this position for a moment and continue breathing in and out deeply.
  • Now straighten your back gently from the bottom upwards. Finally, raise your head until you’re in an upright position again. Move your shoulders back and try to pull your shoulder blades together. Briefly rotate your shoulders forwards and backwards to complete the relaxation exercise.

 

Please note: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.