Not allowing your body to recover after exercise, whether that be simply having rest days, or making use of hydrotherapy hot tubs, or temperature therapy, can increase the likelihood of suffering an injury when you next work out. This is because the body isn’t able to fully recover from the stress of exercise, worsening your form and increasing the risk of poor quality movement.
Our recent research found that over three quarters (77%) of active Brits experience pain or discomfort while exercising, with knee (28%) and joint pain (20%) proving to be the most common, followed by lower back pain (17%) and pulled calves (16%).
To help you know how to deal with these common injuries, we’ve teamed up with Hull FC’s Head of High Performance, Paul Hatton and looked at some of those caused by the most popular forms of exercise.
HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training)
Our findings show that nearly nine tenths (87%) active Brits experience pain or injury caused by HIIT workouts, making it the most likely exercise method to knock you off your game.
In particular, more than one in five (22%) suffer from hamstring injuries which are caused by overstretching or overtraining the muscle1. Repetitive strain on the joints from explosive jumping and landing2 mean 18% suffer from knee and ankle problems. With this kind of training, you quickly become fatigued, meaning that injuries can become more likely, so it’s more important than ever to keep your form tight and allow for effective recovery.
Paul says: “The biggest mistake I see in most gym-goers or amateur athletes is that they forget about recovery. People are going into the gym to achieve their goals, but they never remove the stimulus to get ready to go again the next day. If you stimulate the body, then you need to remove that stimulation with rest, as that’s when the body then adapts to handle stimulation better next time.”
The most common injuries suffered by swimmers often result from poor form, or from the repetitive movement of certain strokes which can cause pain in the joints. For example, lower back injuries, often caused by failure to roll the body properly3, were found to be the most common (18%).
Joint pain (20%) and ankle injuries (10%) were also common and are often caused by the stresses placed on the joints during the movement of certain strokes such as the butterfly.4
Ensuring that you give yourself adequate recovery time will help your body to repair itself but spending time outside of the pool using foam rollers and stretches to increase muscle flexibility, as well as making use of a Jacuzzi to relieve the strain on the muscles, can also help.
Paul says: “90% of the rehab we do is for joint or back problems. A lot of it is due to lifestyle and how people sit in an office all day without moving, the stiffness that builds up in the muscle over that time is substantial. But many people are not stretching that muscle, or foam rolling to relieve the stiffness, despite adding extra strain when they then exercise.”
Our research found that a quarter (25%) of weightlifters experience lower back injuries regularly, which is due to poor form when lifting causing excessive strain on the spine5.
Due to the demand on the muscles, pulled hamstrings (22%) and calves (20%) were also common injuries, which are often caused by overstretching and overloading by trying to lift too much weight too soon6.
Giving yourself time to rest can reduce the likelihood of injury, but in some cases, exercising a different muscle group, or using a different form of exercise on the same group at a lower intensity, can be beneficial.
Paul says: “Exercising after a heavy weight session can help recovery, but it’s important to vary the type of exercise. For example, if you do a lower body weight session one day and your legs are sore the next, the best thing to do is to train again but at a different modality. So, you might do half-an-hour on the bike or walk as these are much lower intensities.”
Cyclists (39%) were most likely to suffer knee pain which is often caused by tightness in the muscles along the outer leg, pulling at the knee7.
Muscular injuries, such as pulled calves (20%) were also found to be common, which can be linked to misplacement of the cycling cleat8, while one in six suffer from groin pain, often caused by incorrect saddle height which places increased stress on the groin and upper leg9.
Giving your body time to rest following a cycle is vital for helping it to recover, but is something many people neglect, or forget to do. Going straight back out for another big ride the next day could increase the risk of an injury.
Paul adds: “I often say to the athletes I work with that recovery is huge, but how many people actually spend time or money on that process? It’s so important to incorporate recovery techniques into your workout regime, no matter what the exercise, but particularly if you’re doing big sessions.”
How to recover effectively
The type of recovery you should be doing depends on the intensity of your exercise regime, as well as the severity of your pain.
For example, an athlete maintaining vigorous daily training sessions is more likely to require immediate recovery to help prepare the muscles for their next session. A casual gym goer however, can recover by resting in between sessions where needed.
For those looking for a quicker but effective recovery time, hydrotherapy is an excellent option, as it helps to massage the muscles and relieves swelling. This involves the use of water for pain relief, and is particularly effective at treating knee and joint pain, while it’s also used for muscle therapy.
Both hot and cold therapy are also effective at treating muscular pain, but work in different ways. Heat therapy increases the blood flow to the affected area, which helps to improve muscle flexibility and can soothe aching joints. Cold therapy reduces the blood flow helping to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Stiffness and sore muscles are common in exercise, however if you do suffer an injury, you should always rest it. Avoid exercising the affected muscles and seek medical help if the pain is severe.
A perfect way to help you recover from your workouts and rest up after injuries is the use of hydrotherapy with one of our Jacuzzi hot tubs. You can find more information about them here: jacuzzi.co.uk/hot-tubs