We rely on our muscles, joints, and tendons in daily life and for sports activities. Yet sometimes, it's only after an awkward move or overload that we fully appreciate their function. But how do sore muscles and other injuries actually happen? And even more importantly, how can we avoid injury happening?
Exercise keeps our body healthy and fit. But as with most things, the correct amount matters. Too much sitting can harm our musculoskeletal system, just as much as excessive training. A wrong step, a moment of inattention or excessive ambition can represent a danger to muscles, joints, and tendons.
We know from our own experience how unpleasant muscle soreness can be. If these conditions are acute or recurrent, they are still a comparatively harmless problem.
Various team sports such as soccer or handball have their own risk potential. The same is true of sports that involve explosive movements, such as tennis, squash, or badminton. Sports with uniform movement patterns, such as cycling, inline skating, or jogging can also easily lead to overload.
Despite this, the solution is not to avoid sports, because an active lifestyle is the most important precondition for avoiding musculoskeletal disorders.
Whether commuting, in the office, or on the sofa in the evening, many people spend most of their day seated. If this is not balanced by active leisure time, back problems are inevitable. Yet even when gardening or doing home improvement, our musculoskeletal system can be affected. A stooped position, kneeling for long periods or incorrect lifting can frequently involve tension and can result in injury.
There are various causes of musculoskeletal disorders. They are generally divided into two categories. If disorders occur without an external influence, they are referred to as endogenous causes. By contrast, exogenous causes can be attributed to external influences.
First, the good news: Our body has an enormous ability to regenerate muscles, joints, and tendons itself. In order for this natural process to proceed as smoothly as possible, it is necessary to react quickly in the event of disorders. The body can also be given targeted support during regeneration; disorders can be prevented by a well coordinated response.
Following the so-called RICE rules has proven successful for acute muscle and joint disorders.
Cooling the affected body part is advisable for acute disorders. By contrast, heat can help in cases of tension or frequently recurring disorders.
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help keep inflammatory processes in-check. Particularly high amounts of omega-3 are found in flax seeds and fatty fish, such as salmon. In addition, to prevent muscle deterioration, it's important to eat sufficient protein.
In addition to a healthy and balanced diet, there are other options for supporting the body naturally during regeneration. For example, topical medication with natural ingredients, such as Traumeel®, are available for this purpose.
Discomfort or disorders that last for several days or longer should always be checked by a general physician. They will generally examine the affected body region through palpation or imaging methods such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), in order to rule out serious injury.
Depending on the diagnosis, support by a physiotherapist can be useful. They can help correct poor posture and provide training in healthy movement patterns. Physiotherapy can also help relieve discomfort and prevent future problems.
To properly recover, the body needs adequate time and rest. Musculoskeletal disorders call for a slow and careful return to fitness activity. Repeat problems can be prevented by specialized training of muscles in the trunk, arms, and legs in a targeted manner. This provides stabilization for joints and relief for tendons and ligaments.
In addition, regardless of the type of sport, a thorough warm-up is advisable to bring the body to a working temperature and prepare the musculoskeletal system for the upcoming stress. If joint discomfort or disorders frequently recur, activities that are gentle on the joints, such as yoga, Pilates, or swimming, are recommended.
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