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Home / How to avoid injury

How to avoid injury   How to avoid injury

How to avoid injury - the body4life no-nonsense guide

Getting injured is often accepted as part of your exercise package but it doesn't have to be. Unfortunately for many people, suffering injury after injury seems to be the norm - line up at any event or chat to people at the gym and a guaranteed topic of conversation is who's injured and who's coming back from injury. Typically, these injuries are 'soft tissue injuries' such as muscle strains and pulls but despite their prevalence, the good news is that the majority of them are preventable by adopting correct training protocols.

This body4life no-nonsense guide includes information and advice on:

1. What happens to your body when you exercise?
2. The 3 most common causes of injury
3. Injury prevention protocols
4. Help, I'm injured! advice

If you want to maximise your exercise benefits safely and effectively and avoid injuries so that you get more from your workouts - and for longer, this body4life guide to injury prevention includes training tips and advice to help you get the most out of your health and fitness programme, whatever your age, goals or experience.

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Injury Prevention

1. What happens to your body when you exercise?

When you work out, your body is stressed, to a level dependent upon your fitness and the intensity of your training session. Stress is good as a training stimulus, providing that it is not excessive or too frequent. When your body has been stressed, it adapts and rebuilds during recovery periods, so that future training sessions are easier and hence you become stronger. These are the basic principles of stress, adaptation and progression.

During a training session when muscles are stressed, microscopic tears occur within them. This is a perfectly normal occurrence but difficulties arise when training is not carried out correctly and then injuries are frequently the end result.

The majority of exercise related injuries are classified as 'soft tissue' injuries, which is a generic grouping for muscle and tendon strains and pulls. Except in extremely severe cases, soft tissue injuries respond well to treatment and rehabilitation.

Correct rehabilitation is as important as diagnosis and treatment because if the injury is not rehabilitated correctly then re-injury is the likely result. You have to be stronger and/or more flexible post injury or else your body has an area of weakness which is likely to let you down again and again.


2. The 3 most common causes of injury

The majority of injuries are caused by a few common factors that can easily be avoided, through sensible, planned and structured training. The 3 most common causes of injury are:

  • Insufficient warm-up
  • Insufficient flexibility
  • Insufficient complementary training

Injured? Check out the common injuries section

  • Insufficient warm-up

    Next to rest, your warm-up is arguably the most important component of your training. The warm-up prepares you physically and mentally for your training session and has numerous functions and benefits, including increasing blood flow to your muscles and improving your overall mobility. These are key injury prevention factors.

  • Insufficient complementary training (eg: gym training)

    Correct resistance training can bring about considerable improvements to your overall strength and posture, resulting in a stronger physique that is less likely to suffer an injury.

  • Insufficient flexibility

    Flexibility problems account for a high proportion of injuries because flexibility work is typically the most neglected area of training. Tight, inflexible muscles are far more likely to succumb to injury due to their reduced range of movement and functionality. Regular flexibility work will help keep your body in balance, your muscles pliable and loose and also ensure that your range of motion is not compromised.

Looking to improve your flexibility? Click here


3. Injury prevention protocols

To help prevent injuries, always adhere to the following exercise protocols whenever you train:

  • Warm up sufficiently

    Warm-up for a minimum of 5-10 minutes at a sufficiently high intensity for you to perspire and elevate your heart rate but not so intense that it's as challenging as, or detracts from, the quality of your main session.

    After your CV warm-up, spend 2-3 minutes mobilising your joints in a controlled manner, avoiding bouncing or over-stretching.

  • Cool down correctly

    Allow approximately 10 minutes at the end of your session to cool down with some light CV exercise, followed by flexibility exercises. Your cool-down will lower your body temperature, redistribute blood around your body, safely lower your blood pressure and help you relax.

  • Maintain your muscles

    Regular exercise is essential for long-term health and fitness but it can also damage your muscles. Small areas of muscle damage, combined with a build-up of the waste by-products of exercise can often lead to injury if not resolved quickly.

    Regular sports massage will flush out the waste by-products from your training, re-align muscle fibres, remove any knots and adhesions and ensure that your muscles function optimally so that your risk of injury is significantly reduced.

Need a Sports Massage? Click here


4. Help, I'm injured! Advice

If you suffer an injury then you need to act FAST! If you act quickly
you can:

  • Limit tissue damage
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Accelerate the healing process
  • Speed your return to training and exercise

As soon as possible you need to PRICE your injury. PRICE is an
acronym for:

  • Protection. Avoid any activity that uses the injured muscle or muscles and if necessary, immobilise the injured limb.
  • Rest. Rest the injured area to allow the first stages of repair to begin. If you continue to load the injured muscle, further damage may occur to an already weakened structure.
  • Ice. During the first 24 hours, apply an ice pack (5 minutes on, 10 minutes off) as regularly as possible to limit blood flow, help reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process.
  • Compression. Either with an elastic bandage or with the ice pack, compress the area surrounding the injury to reduce swelling.
  • Elevation. Elevate the injured limb to reduce blood flow and fluid to the area, so that inflammation is further reduced and waste fluids within the tissues can flow away.

After 24 hours, full injury assessment, diagnosis and treatment can begin, followed by a rehabilitation programme to help you get back to fitness . . . faster.

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