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Army August 29, 2013
Lt Rob Orr goes
through a warm-
up routine during
will always help
PO Paul Berry
INJURIES affect not only fitness,
but have the potential to damage
health, motivation, lifestyle and
Fortunately, many sporting and
physical training injuries are prevent-
able with a little planning and due cau-
tion. Here are eight quick tips to help
Check your playing surface
and training equipment
Gym equipment should always be
checked before use. Cables should not
be frayed, plate weight pins should be
secure and dumbbell weights secured
at each end. Playing fields should be
checked for rocks, potholes etc.
Training and sporting equipment
must fit properly and be in good work-
ing order, for example, good quality
These precautions are valid even
when participating in post-PT games
or ‘kick-arounds’ in the unit.
Mouthguards should always be
worn during activities where physical
contact with another person or equip-
ment is a possibility.
Don’t play sport to get fit, get
fit to play sport
Many sporting injuries are caused
by fatigue, which can cause muscle
timing and mental reaction speed to
decrease. This affects physical coordi-
nation, leading to a mistimed catch or
mental conditions is important. When
the body is cold, reaction speeds slow
and muscle elasticity decreases. Warm
clothing is therefore important.
When it is hot and humid, ensure
clothing provides protection from the
sun yet allows for heat loss. A light-
weight shirt is not only better for sun
protection but for heat loss as it will
trap sweat – an effective means of heat
loss through evaporation.
When running or cycling in the
dark, ensure the clothing worn can be
seen by others, even when travelling
on bicycle paths and dirt tracks.
Leave the ego behind
Avoid playing for sheep stations.
While the will to win is good, injur-
ing yourself and others through over-
competitiveness is not.
The memory of your victory will
kick, and the ability of the protective
muscles to respond to overstress, lead-
ing to muscle and tendon strains and
Always warm up thoroughly
There is often a tendency to jump
straight into a physical activity and
warm up as you go.
Unfortunately the physical
demands and level of coordination
required between the preceding activ-
ity, for example, walking to the gym
or sporting field, and the activity to be
undertaken, are vastly different and it
is during this adjustment phase that the
chances of injury are very high.
Listen to your body
Listen to your body and it will usu-
ally tell you when things start to go
wrong. The first sign of injury signifies
the time to cease the activity.
Pushing through the injury should
be avoided as this action will increase
the risk of a more serious injury,
increase the risk of an additional injury
and increase recovery time.
Avoid exposure to the
The elements in which physical
activity is taking place can have a
marked effect on injury potential.
It is important to maintain good
hydration by drinking sufficient water
during physical activity.
Likewise dressing to meet environ-
last until the next game, your injuries
may last a lifetime.
In the gym, impress with flawless
technique rather than being trapped
under the weight bar or flying off the
back of the treadmill.
Always complete your
Just because the pain and physical
effects of an injury can no longer be
seen or felt, it does not mean that the
damaged tissues have fully recovered
or are able to perform to the physical
This step is vital if the potential for
re-injury is to be minimised.
Just as sensible people would not
drive a car or fly in an aircraft until
the mechanic was 100 per cent happy
with its performance, you should also
continue with physiotherapy treatment
until discharged by your physiothera-
Don’t follow, lead
Rather than following a program
out of a magazine or on a website,
adding a popular exercise to a training
regime because everyone else seems
to be doing it, or following the current
train-until-you-break fad, consult a
combat fitness leader or PTI to get a
program designed to meet your spe-
cific needs and abilities.
Lt Rob Orr is a former Army PTI and now a
reservist and Assistant Professor at the Bond
Institute of Sport and Health. He has been
writing health and fitness articles for these
pages for almost 20 years and this article
marks his 300th since they began.
A few simple measures can help keep injuries
at bay, Lt Robert Orr writes.
Playing hurt is a costly game
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