Government guidelines to safeguard the NHS during the Covid-19 pandemic means that many of us are spending far more time at home. The internet is full of online fitness classes and exercise videos and people are finding creative ways to keep their body and minds healthy while in lockdown.
Why injury prevention is so crucial
As orthopaedic surgeons, we welcome people’s commitment to staying fit and well during the lockdown. But, now more than ever, it is important to avoid getting injured as a result of exercising. Aside from the fact that such injuries are painful and can take a long time to recover from, the huge pressures on the NHS during the pandemic means that nearly all but life-saving or limb-saving surgery is on hold. Few other operations are going ahead but they are taking longer due to the need to wear PPE (personal protective equipment) and the Covid-19 operating theatre protocols and restrictions.
This video shows the additional PPE required now during Covid-19.
Other than this, doctors and nurses are throwing all of their resources at battling the virus. If you are unfortunate enough to sustain an injury at this time, you may have a long wait for surgery on the NHS. Instead you may need to wear a cast or undergo traction for treatment, until pressures on the NHS ease. Private orthopaedic practices, such as Carrothers Orthopaedics, is focused on NHS patients at present, to support the NHS, so the option of private surgery or private hospital care isn’t available to patients at this time, likely until at least the end of May, but it could be longer.
How to avoid injury
So, how can you minimise the risk of getting injured when exercising at home? Here are our top tips.
1. Avoid more risky forms of exercise
If you have a garden, you’re likely to want to spend time outside as the weather turns warmer. Try to discourage children from activities like climbing trees or using a trampoline as these carry a higher risk of injury. Even throwing yourself into a spot of gardening or DIY can cause injuries so, if you are doing this take sensible precautions, such as ensuring you have someone to hold the ladder and not tackling too much in one go.
2. Use the correct technique
A common cause of injury is poor technique. If you are following an online exercise class – particularly if you haven’t done that type of exercise before – listen carefully to what the instructor is saying and watch to make sure you have understood the movement fully before attempting it yourself. Even if you are just practising your golf swing in the garden, doing it incorrectly could leave you at risk of a painful injury. Online coaching is available for many different types of sport and we highly recommend it.
3. Wear the right footwear
If you are going out for a walk or run, it’s important to wear shoes that fit properly and support your feet. This is because you generate a huge amount of force when you’re running – equivalent to generally three times your body weight. Wearing the correct footwear helps to absorb some of that force and reduces the risk of injury. If the cushioning in the midsole becomes cracked or wrinkled, it’s time to replace the shoes as they will no longer be providing sufficient protection.
4. Build up slowly
Maybe you’ve decided that your goal during lockdown is to get fit. While this is a great ambition, doing too much too quickly increases your risk of injury. Instead, take your time and build up gradually. Never continue exercising if you are in pain and if you are getting tired it’s time to stop.
5. Don’t ignore an injury
If you are unfortunate enough to injure yourself while exercising, it’s important to stop and rest the injured limb. The RICE method – rest, ice, compression and elevation above the level of your heart – can be an effective form of first aid for minor injuries. However, if you are still in pain, you will need a proper diagnosis as continuing to use an injured limb can result in more serious and potentially long-term damage.
Observe government guidelines
Please only undertake exercise that observes current rules on social distancing and if you are in one of the high risk groups, it is important to stay indoors as instructed by the government: https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
We wish you and your loved ones good health and injury free-activities during the coming weeks and months.