Bulletproof your body: How to protect yourself from injury

February 11 2019

This content was provided by our partner, England Athletics.

Strength is the name of the game when it comes to making yourself resistant to injury. And the key is to understand how your body works — or, more importantly, how it should work.

By making minor adjustments to your posture and strength, you can ensure everything works pretty much as it should. But because we spend our lives today working on computers and sat at our desks, we are all prone to incorrect posture, poor hip strength, lack of mobility and so on.

While most things aren’t particularly damaging in isolation, they can lead to injury if they all occur together.

What to look out for

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Just why are you injured, or why might you get injured? 
  • Is it because of poor physical preparation? 
  • Is your training too tough? 
  • Have you upped your training frequency or intensity suddenly? 
  • Is your body working through a different range of motion (e.g. have you started sprinting instead of running slowly)? 

If you replied “yes” to any of the above questions, these simple exercises will help. They’re all about training movement patterns rather than muscular strength. For injury prevention, you shouldn’t be looking for huge power and speed; rather, you should mimic how your body would work in a perfect world.

With that in mind, devote 15 minutes twice a week to the following exercises and you will go a long way toward bulletproofing your body.

5 exercises to reduce your rate of injury

Overhead squat

You don’t need any weights to do this exercise. Instead, we’re looking at perfect movement rather than out and out strength. Done wrong, the squat will demonstrate limited mobility in your upper torso, tight hips, mobility in your ankles and stability in your knees. Performed correctly and you’ll start to put those essential areas through the correct range of motion.

  • Do 10-20 perfect squats

Step-over

Stepping over a very low hurdle (around 20cm) will demonstrate potential hip and knee problems, or poor stability due to weak or tight glutes and a general poor range of movement. Step over in a perfectly straight line with no ‘hurdling’ action or wobble, rather a single smooth forward motion.

  • Do 3 sets of 3 walkovers 

Forward/backward lunge

This demonstrates knee and ankle stability, hip extension, pelvic stability and trunk stability. Potential problems include leaning too far forward or back or while you’re doing the lunge the lead leg knee collapses indicating weak glutes.

  • Do 5 lunges

Single leg to stand

For this exercise, you’ll need nothing more than a stable chair. Simply stand up using just one leg (and no arms). Alternatively, step up onto a low step. It’s a great exercise to demonstrate leg, knee and ankle stability and how good (or bad) your range of movement is.

  • Do 2 sets of 5 with each leg

Supine leg lower

How easily you can lower your legs from a raised position will demonstrate lumbar and pelvic strength, which are related to general core strength. Your spine’s strength and mobility will also become very evident. Strengthening these areas is essential for a smooth running motion.

  • Do 10 leg lowers in a controlled fashion

Why injuries can occur

  • Even athletes are relatively inactive in everyday life compared to years ago
  • We tend to spend more time seated (and therefore have hips and knees flexed)
  • We spend less time walking about in everyday life
  • We spend more time at computers, on the phone with rounded shoulders, and upper back flexed