3 Lifestyle Changes to Help Prevent Injury

When you contemplate the lifestyle changes that nurture and protect your health, you probably focus on ways to improve your diet, incorporate more physical activity, get more sleep, or reduce stress.

While these key lifestyle habits can certainly go a long way in helping you maintain your energy and vitality, making a conscious effort to reduce your risk of injury is arguably just as important to your long-term health.

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — especially when it comes to preventing injuries that can leave you inconveniently sidelined, or worse, lead to a chronic pain condition. At Family Practice Associates, we believe that no matter what your age, fitness level, preferred activities, or daily habits, you can avoid some of the most common injuries by making a few mindful lifestyle changes.

Practice proper posture

If you’re like most people, you recognize poor posture when you see it, but you aren’t necessarily aware of your own posture — or how you habitually position your body when you’re standing or sitting — throughout the day.

But you should know that your posture, whether it’s good or bad, can have a profound effect on your overall health. And in a perfect world, good posture (both seated and standing) would be an involuntary habit.

Having good posture means that your body parts are in proper alignment and supported by just the right amount of muscle tension against the pull of gravity. Understanding what good posture feels like — knees slightly bent, shoulders back, head level, abdominal muscles tucked in, pelvis slightly tilted forward — requires thoughtful awareness, particularly if you’re used to slouching when you sit or stand.  

Maintaining good posture helps you avoid common stress, strain, overuse, and degenerative injuries by placing the least amount of stress on supporting muscles, tendons, and ligaments as you move or perform weight-bearing activities.

Good posture also helps you keep your bones and joints properly aligned, which protects against the kind of abnormal wear and tear that can lead to chronic pain or osteoarthritis.

Wear the right shoes

Your foot/ankle complex is made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, and a network of more than 100 different tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Although you can generally count on your feet to be strong, flexible, and stable under pressure, they’re also prone to injury — particularly if you usually wear shoes that are uncomfortable, impractical, or ill-fitting.

The potential harmful effects of tight, impractical, or worn-out shoes aren’t limited to your feet, either. Because your feet, ankles, knees, and hips form a powerful kinetic chain that influences your overall body mechanics, wearing the wrong shoes can easily lead to chronic knee pain. And when knee pain makes you to alter your gait when you walk, it can eventually lead to hip or lower back pain.   

To prevent foot injuries and related knee, hip, or back pain, avoid stiff shoes that “need to be broken in” as well as narrow shoes that crowd your toes and high-heeled shoes that put pressure on the balls of your feet.

To find the right pair of athletic shoes, it’s important to consider the activity you’ll use them for as well as your unique foot structure and biomechanics. An experienced athletic footwear specialist can check for abnormal wear patterns on your old shoes, analyze the way you walk, pinpoint any biomechanical issues, and help you choose the best pair of shoes for your feet.

Maintain physical equilibrium

You probably already know that getting regular exercise is one of the best ways to make your body stronger, more resilient, and less susceptible to injury. But to ensure your workout routine prevents, rather than causes, injury, it’s important to maintain a certain amount of physical equilibrium.

This means getting enough exercise to make your body stronger and more flexible, while at the same time respecting your physical limits and creating a well-rounded fitness routine that emphasizes cross-training and provides ample recovery time.

Workout programs that emphasize cross-training and active recovery reduce your risk of developing an overuse injury, such as a sprained ligament, strained muscle, or stress fracture. If you’re an avid runner, for example, you can give your knees a break by opting to swim, cycle, or do yoga once or twice a week.   

Cross-training also helps promote a better balance between strength and flexibility, which can go a long way in helping you maintain stable, injury-free joints.

To find out how you can improve your posture, find the right pair of shoes, or create a balanced exercise program, call our office in Broomfield, Colorado, today or use our convenient online tool to schedule an appointment with one of our providers any time.

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