Are there things we are doing wrong in daily life, which are making us more susceptible to illness & injury?

It seems like everyone I know has recently either been ill or suffered an injury…and that includes me. (I couldn’t fight off the dreaded flu). Which leads me to ask the question, how can we avoid getting ill or indeed getting injured? Is it inevitable that in changes of season we will unavoidably pick up that cold? Are the injuries simply bad luck? Or, are there things we are doing wrong in daily life, which are making us more susceptible to injury?

A famous American Basketball player called AC Green was nicknamed the ‘Iron Man’ for remaining injury free and playing 1,192 consecutive games at the very highest level of professional basketball over the course of 15 years. How on earth did he do it? Many people attributed it to good luck, but Green himself was meticulous about his lifestyle outside of pro sport, especially after matches. Often the cause of injury and illness is only partly to do with the obvious problems (the viruses, the bad tackles etc) and more to do with the behind-the-scenes issues, which are weakening your body.

To hopefully help with a positive solution to this topic, here are my 3 top tips from many years of getting it wrong and some of getting it right.

1. Hydration: Almost without exception, if I pick up a cold or flu I can usually connect it with mild dehydration. But it’s not just about how much water you are drinking. That’s an obvious thing. The more dangerous and more hidden factor here is what food you’re taking in to your body after training. What most nonathletes would consider to be a ‘normal healthy meal’ can actually be much too heavy on your body after hard training. It may feel fantastic while you’re eating it, but may leave your body completely water-starved a few hours later as it’s being digested. This will certainly take your body’s focus away from recovery and onto the hard task of digestion, and that’s exactly the time our immunity drops. Especially after tough cardio training, the best thing you can possibly do is have a lot of greens or water-based fruits and leave it at that for at least a few hours! Do this and you’ll never see your immunity drop after training.

2. Sleep: If you’ve trained really hard and you’ve eaten lightly, get yourself to bed before midnight wherever possible. Often it’s after great training sessions that we feel most alive and energised, but there is considerable evidence to suggest that earlier sleep times (pre-midnight) result in much healthier sleep and there is no better way to recover from serious physical exertion than good sleep. So switch off the TV and computer in the later evening and let nature take it’s course with your tiredness. You’ll find yourself dropping off naturally much earlier than you’d have expected.

3. Prioritise Your Social Events: This may not sound like the typical advice you’d expect to read in a fitness blog, but my experience is that if you have planned a ‘big night out’ or expect to be at a function where you’ll be eating heavy foods, drinking alcohol or sleeping late, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that it’s a good idea to do a really tough training session first – or straight after. It may make you feel less guilty about letting-loose  but it is asking for problems. Better instead to prioritise the party, take the day off training and give your body only ONE challenge to deal with – the party! And the next day, if you’re going to train, be sensible. Don’t try to make up for anything. Doing a tough training session before or after a big social event, is (I’ve found) a generally a very bad idea.

My personal mantra for why I exercise hard was the idea of being ‘Ready For Anything’. But being ready for anything is certainly much easier when you are healthy and injury-free. Perhaps at times we feel we have no choice but to muddle-through despite illness or injury, especially when competition is involved, but I believe that generally we should not be having to drag ourselves into battle despite the pain. Too much of this kind of Gladiatorial behaviour can lead to chronic injury and lifelong physical problems – as experienced by many professional rugby players. If you find you have to drag yourself into battle just to complete your normal training… something is probably wrong with your lifestyle outside of training.

So concentrate on your hydration (food and drink!), your sleep and your ‘pre-party’ choices and I promise you’ll see more days of health this year.

Published in ultra-FIT Magazine

Posted in Rajko's Blog | Leave a comment

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