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This article was written for Active by Dr. Hamid Sadri, a sports Chiropractor.

Being active and exercising helps to improve health and it also increases the risk of injury. The most common type of athletic injuries are repetitive stress injuries or (RSI). These aren't single-event traumas but injuries caused by accumulative and repetitive activities that are part of any sport.

The general intention of exercising is to force the body beyond what it is capable of at the time. This causes the body to become stronger, faster, and more flexible and agile. This is a natural response that occurs and follows a well known rule referred to as the SAID Principle: Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand. It's what the athlete desires to accomplish. The basic premise is to cause some sort of micro-trauma to an organ system in the body, allow the body time to repair and recover, then repeat the process and incrementally increase the activity until the desired level of fitness is reached.

Many errors are likely to occur during this process that ultimately result in injuries. There are some basic strategies that help minimize the possibility of repetitive stress injuries.

Start with a 10 to 12 minute warm-up. The warm-up should imitate the exercise you are about to perform except that it is done in a slower, more controlled manner. You are raising the core temperature of the muscles and loosening up the joints so that they are prepared for the coming tasks. It also drives more oxygen and nutrients to the body parts so they can perform at a higher level of function for extended periods of time.

Follow the warm-up with myofascial release (SMR) using a foam roller or the stick for large muscles groups and tennis or golf balls for smaller muscle groups. SMR allows muscles to handle increased blood supply and to increase in size and circumference easier. Use these tools to rub your muscles for 30 seconds to 1 minute being firm but refraining from crushing your tissues.

Finally, follow the above with some old-fashioned stretching. Follow a static stretch routine of 20 to 30 second holds for each muscle group. Avoid ballistic stretching---bouncing, rapid, short movements. Now you are ready to exercise!

After exercising, you should repeat the SMR tools and finish with more stretching. This helps "clean up" byproducts in your muscles. Stretching helps to restore muscle length and reverses shortening caused by repetition. This allows for faster recovery and lessens the occurrence of repetitive stress injuries.

Who has time for this? This process demands additional time, however it may make the difference of being side-lined versus remaining in the game, as well as the time and cost of physical therapy treatment and rehab. There are shorter versions that can be implemented, not as effective, but still aiding in desired outcome to some extent. The abbreviated routines follow:
BEST: warm-up - SMR - stretch - exercise - SMR - stretch
BETTER: warm-up - stretch - exercise - SMR - stretch
GOOD: warm-up - stretch - exercise - stretch
OK: warm-up - exercise -stretch
BARE MINIMUM: warm-up - exercise
BAD IDEA: stretch cold and exercise without a proper warm-up

Your decision-you can take the time now and prepare, or take the time later and rehab.

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