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Musculoskeletal injury is a complicated, multi-faceted process, and the specific cause(s) of injury will be unique to the individual.

However, in an effort to decrease the occurrence of injury, there is a general hierarchy of importance in terms of measures that can be taken.

Health professionals often observe people over-emphasising some of the less important facets of injury prevention, in the process ignoring the “big rocks”

Of primary importance is management of training load. Many of the injuries we see are a direct result of people doing too much too soon.

Equally critical is recovery, and the biggest recovery tool we have is sleep. Suboptimal sleep results in decreased physical activity and an increase in injury risk.

Resistance training is another important facet, improving the robustness and optimising the ability to tolerate activity loads.

Proper nutrition and hydration also occupies a prominent position in the injury prevention equation, with suboptimal fueling of the body further decreasing the ability to tolerate physical stress

Modalities such as stretching, self massage, heat (sauna, heat packs) % cold (ice baths, cold showers), compression etc. are often thought to be key elements, and while they may provide short-term relief of soreness, play a much smaller part in injury prevention.

The final tier is the various gadgets and gizmos, magic potions and other more novel treatments. While these often get attention due to their novelty, they should only be considered the 1%ers, and should only be considered once all other bases are covered.

If you are an active individual and want to make the most of your physical activity while decreasing the likelihood of pain and injury, then get adequate sleep, avoid spikes in training load, eat well and perform an adequate amount of strength training!

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