So this time of year there’s a real mix of people out and being active.
And with the great weather that Hartlepool is experiencing, you’ve got an influx of people just loving jumping on a bike, going for walk, or even trying a few jogs.
Throw in the pre-season footballers training on places like the Rec and Grayfields, or the King George V playing fields over at West View, that one guy out running, likely to be there come rain or shine, two friends adopting the old “run a lamppost, walk a lamppost” method of getting fit, or the more serious runners associated with the Burn Road Harriers, the sight of people being active is everywhere. And it’s great.
My bike rides this summer have likely totaled more in the last few months than ever before in my adult life. And I’ve seen things around town that I don’t think I’ve ever noticed before despite living here for 32 years. And that’s just one of the benefits of being active in the outdoors.
But one of the downsides is injury. And I’ve mention in this column recently that as well as keeping fit, increasing strength and stamina and improving your muscle control, are all vital to reduce the risk of injury.
And if you are running the risk of catching the fitness bug this summer and planning on continuing the trend well into the winter, then it’s also going to pay to be aware of your balance.
Sounds pretty simple – that if you can stay on your feet, you’re going to reduce the risk of being injured. But it’s much more complex than that. Here’s why:
Inside every one of your joints and muscles are receptors that help keep you balanced. But as you get older, or you suffer an injury that doesn’t heal properly, then your balance is affected.
And this means that joints and muscles are sometimes moving around too much – more than your body is aware of and it means that bones rub tougher and muscles are tightened. This is one of the major causes of arthritis.
Not too bad if you’re just out for a walk, but if you’re going to be more active and more physical, then great balance and better feedback from these joints is a real issue that will need addressing.
And if you’re heading into football games or right in the middle of pre-season, or are a serious runner with the Harriers, then improving your balance isn’t an option. It’s a must.
Don’t just think that because you don’t fall over when you out for a run or walk, that you’ve got it good.
There’s untold damage being done – damage that you are not lucky enough to notice and then be able to address, to ankle, knee and hip joints – as a result of receptors in the joints not working quite as fast as they could be.
Improve your balance, add it to better strength and muscle control and you’ve just made another very small, but huge improvement to your chances of keeping active and healthy.
One tip, look for, or ask for, proprioception type exercises.
They are exactly what you need to be doing to limit this issue.