Sports Injury Prevention Tips for Beginners

A client asked us at Physical Therapy Lucan, how they can stay Injury free when training, this gave us an idea for this blog, Sports Injury Prevention Tips for Beginners. We looked at a few general topics that apply to any training you might be thinking of starting, sports injury prevention tips can be applied whether you are starting to go to the gym or run.

Picking the wrong training plan

There are hundreds of training plans available on the offer, but none of them are tailored to your needs. Make sure to do your research, talk to an expert/coach/personal trainer and make sure you pick a realistic and achievable plan. It’s important that you build your training slowly, be patient and set realistic goals and targets.


It is common for people to be over excited when they start a new training plan or exercise programme, thinking the harder they train the quicker they will reach their target. This is the opposite, it is important to build your training at a steady pace, building in rest and recovery time.

For example when running there is a 10% rule which states that you shouldn't increase your weekly long run by more than 10% a week, and definitely do not increase speed and distance in the same session.

Sports Injury Prevention

To help avoid sports injury it is important to have a balanced training plan that includes Mobility / Stretching and Core Strength. It is important to build in mobility and stretching session both during and after your training sessions. At Physical Therapy Lucan we run Core strength and Pilates classes which build in flexibility and mobility.

We have attached a video that takes you through a good mobility session which can be done a couple of times a week. It is important to ensure the muscles and tendons are kept supple so as you do not strain a muscle during exercise. It is also important to keep joints and ligaments loose to ensure good joint flexibility and mobility.

Check out our short series of videos that help with Core Strength, Mobility and Flexibility which will enhance your training and sports injury prevent ion.

Listen to Your Body

As well as over training there is always the chance you will injury yourself. When taking on something new the body needs time to adjust and adapt to the new exercise regime or plan. A new exercise plan or regime will result in aches and pains during your training, these can be worked through with rest, but a niggling injury that prevents you or stops your training must not be ignored. A problem with a joint or ligament won’t simply go away. Ice, rest and treatment of the sports injury maybe required, an important part of training is learning to listen to your body.

Quality not Quantity

Another common mistake involves a training schedule that focuses on volume and has you doing the same activity for 6 days a week. It is important to look at your plan and build in a variety of sessions e.g. Day 1: Weights / Day 2: Cardio / Day 3: Rest / Day 4: Core Strength / Day 5: Interval Training / Day 6: Rest / Day 7: Endurance.

Nutrition not Diet

There are hundreds of diet plans and so much nutritional advice on line it becomes very confusing. Depending on your goals and target, the easiest rules to stick to are, eat a balanced diet of Carbs and Protein, Eat within 30 min of exercise, avoid processed foods and sugar, drink 2lts of water a day. It is best to look at nutrition as a lifestyle not a diet, get some expert advice and do your research as nutrition will be different for everyone based on metabolism and what your training goals are.

Ignoring rest and recovery

Rest and recovery are an essential part of any training plan, your body repairs the damage to the muscles when it is resting. There are two ways to look at rest and recovery, short term and long term.

Short term is where you need to allow 24hrs rest before working that part of the body again, e.g. Strength train one day, cardio the next day and go back to strengthen the following day.

Long term is where you build in days off into your weekly schedule and easy training weeks or weeks off into your annual schedule.

If you wish to learn more about injury prevention training contact us.

Calf Strain Treatment

At Physical Therapy Clinic Lucan we have had a number clients presenting with a calf strain in the past few weeks, with this in mind I decided to write a guide on how to manage a calf strain.

The calf is made up of two main muscles in the lower leg: gastrocnemius or soleus, these are strained when they are stretched beyond their ability to withstand the tension. This strain can result in small tears to the muscle fibers or, in a severe injury, a complete rupture of the muscle fibers. There may also be bruising and swelling of the lower leg.

A calf strain can happen as a result of sudden acceleration or change of direction while running.

Calf strains are typically graded as follows:

Grade 1 Calf Strain: The muscle is stretched causing some small tears in the muscle fibers. Full recovery takes approximately two weeks.

Grade 2 Calf Strain: There is partial tearing of muscle fibers. Full recovery takes approximately 5-8 weeks.

Grade 3 Calf Strain: This is the most severe calf strain with a complete tearing or rupture of muscle fibers in the lower leg. Full recovery can take 3-4 months and, in some instances, surgery may be needed.

Calf Strain Treatment:

The first treatment is R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation). Wrap the calf and keep it elevated for the first 24 hours to reduce swelling. Ice the calf for 2 mins then remove the ice for 2 mins, repeat in blocks of 20 mins.

Typical rehab for a calf strain depends upon the severity of the injury, and includes the following.

Rest the Muscle. Avoid impact activities that cause pain and excessive stretching (no running, jumping, or weightlifting). Do not return to your sport until you are pain-free.

Dry needling can be very effective in speeding up recovery by increasing blood flow to the muscle to repair the tear.

Massage also helps realign muscle fibers, breakdown scar tissue and speed up repair of damaged muscle fibers.therband-plantarflexion

Strengthen the Muscle: When the acute pain has eased you can start strength exercises for the muscle, some early stage exercises include thera band exercises i.e. wrap exercise band around your toes and press foot away against resistance and then slowly return to the start position. Do 10 reps, rest and repeat 5 to 10 times.

Over time you can progress to the Calf Raise Exercise both double and single leg raises. These should be followed by gentle stretching. As the calf strength improves you can add in some plyo exercises to increase load in the calf e.g. Hoping, Skipping, Lunging and Squats.

If you wish to return to running it is important to ease your way back into running so as not to re injury the muscle, while also allowing the muscle to adapt and change to the extra load. A good program to follow is a walk/run program e.g. 2min Walk followed by 2min Run and slowly increase the run time over a number of weeks.

As you get back into regular training it is important to include regular stretching and flexibility program to gain range of motion and prevent future calf injury. A Foam Roller is a great tool to use to perform self-massage to reduce scar tissue formation and improve blood flow to the area. Physical Therapy Clinic Lucan goal of rehab is to return our clients to normal activity as quickly as possible without any long-term effects. If you return too soon, you risk developing a chronic injury. Keep in mind that everyone recovers at a different rate, and your rehab needs to build over time so you don’t re injure yourself. Patience is key to rehabing a calf strain injury.