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As someone who has experienced numerous injuries due to a highly active and sporting background, I understand how frustrating it is to be sidelined from your favourite activities and unable to complete everyday tasks. It can be overwhelming to deal with the physical limitations, not to mention the mental strain of being unable to participate in the activities you love.

When I've been injured in the past, my first step has always been to see a physiotherapist and work hard during my rehab sessions to get back to full strength as quickly as possible. However, I've come to realise that the best approach to injury prevention is to avoid the need for rehab in the first place. While it's impossible to completely eliminate the risk of injury, you can significantly decrease it through proper preparation and training.

One of the most common causes of injuries is muscle overload, which often occurs at the beginning of a sports season when there is a sudden increase in activity. If this increase in load is not planned and executed appropriately, it can lead to injury. To prevent this, it's important to assess your everyday life and identify the joints that you use most frequently.

For example, a football player may use their ankles, knees, and hips more frequently than normal during their season, which increases the risk of lower body injuries. To prevent these injuries, the player should focus on increasing the range of motion in these joints and building strength at the new end range both in and out of season. This will increase joint capacity and enable the joints to handle a heavier load when in season.

Similarly, an office worker who sits for long periods may experience lower back pain due to the prolonged hamstring lengthening that occurs while seated. To prevent this, it's important to increase the joint's range of motion and build strength within that end range, thereby reducing the risk of injury.

When it comes to strength training, it's important to remember that different modes of training have different goals. In bodybuilding, the focus is on achieving muscle hypertrophy, while in powerlifting, the goal is to lift as much weight as possible. However, in both sports, shoulder impingement and dislocation are common injuries that can occur if joint capacity is not taken into account.

Therefore, it's important to prioritise increasing joint capacity alongside muscle hypertrophy and strength gains.

The rise of female bodybuilding is a positive development, with more women choosing to focus on weight training instead of cardio. While gaining muscle hypertrophy in certain areas is desirable, it's important to consider the joint load vs. joint capacity levels to prevent injury. For example, training the glutes to failure without strengthening the hip flexors, lower back, hamstrings, and hip joint can lead to pain and injury in the long run. Incorporating exercises like pigeon pose and deficit deadlifts can help prevent hip joint pain and improve joint capacity.

By prioritising injury prevention through mobility and strength training, we can train for life and avoid setbacks that lead to a loss of motivation and difficulty in returning to sport or old lifestyles. Athletes today have access to top-tier trainers and information on injury prevention and strength and conditioning, but anyone can benefit from this knowledge by building a plan that prioritises mobility and strength for longevity.

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