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The Reality of Injury Prevention

Updated: Feb 26

Cushioning your Expectations


Despite refined skills and the fortification of physical attributes, injuries can still occur. There can be environmental, or situational complexities, a person's mental state, a weakness in the body, or even pushing oneself too hard when fatigued can potentially lead to injuries, even in very healthy, skilled individuals.


Although developing your strength, mobility, flexibility, balance, coordination, and safe-falling skills don't grant you bulletproof joints, adamantium bones, and impenetrable skin, it certainly does greatly improve your chances of preventing injuries. For example, if someone has to jump out of a 2-story window in an emergency, being adept at breakfalls and rolls can save their life, but they may still break some bones. Oftentimes, injury prevention doesn't mean "no injury" it means "less severe injury".


Having a strong and flexible body with resilient joints will increase how much force you can take before a bone breaks, or before soft tissue damage is incurred, but there's still a limit to what it can withstand. Good technique might prevent you from overloading a joint, but there are so many other variables at play, and no skill or technique is without its limitations. Injury prevention mitigates risks, it doesn't eliminate them.


The purpose of this article is to dispel some of the unrealistic expectations of what injury prevention can do for us, and what a balanced mindset in our understanding of it looks like.


The Overestimation of Injury Prevention


Injury Prevention involves the practice and progression of exercises and skills that help reduce our risk of injury during physical activity and daily life in general. This involves strengthening our joints, improving flexibility, coordination, balance, and refining our safe-falling skills.


Learning breakfalls and rolls, developing strong and flexible muscles, resilient joints and good balance is a very empowering way to build your body. There are, however, many common misconceptions about injury prevention that may actually increase our risk of injuries. Most of these self-destructive misconceptions involve an overestimation of our capabilities, and thus, a disconnection from reality.


Common Misconceptions


It helps if we understand why we tend to fall into these traps of misconception. There are a variety of reasons, but they all originate from holding and seeking support for exaggerated expectations. These warped expectations can often come from cultural conventions and media depictions, and then be reinforced through subconsciously seeking confirmation biases. The common misconceptions and what strengthens them are as follows:


  1. Skill & experience in breakfalls and rolls equates invulnerability during falls.

  2. Injuries can't happen when proper technique and form is used during exercises.

  3. Fitness & healthy lifestyle equates invulnerability to injuries during physical activity

  4. Cultural conventions such as the attitude of self-reliance, or our expectations that come from fictional depictions such as movies and video games.

  5. Seeking confirmation bias to reinforce these beliefs.


The Delusion of Invulnerability


If you've ever met a man between the ages of 13-30, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. These common misconceptions about injury prevention that lead to carelessness and injury include the idea that mastering these skills can make a person immune to injuries during physical activities.


Another common belief is that practicing proper technique, or having a high level of experience virtually guarantees prevention of injuries, overlooking other contributing factors. Some people also assume that simply living a healthy lifestyle and exercising regularly makes them invulnerable to injuries.


We can easily fall into the illusion that we can become invulnerable if we adopt the perfect lifestyle and do all the right things. This mentality leads us to ignore environmental factors, and other unpredictable variables that may play into the occurrence of injury. These all play a critical role in our ability to prevent injury, but that doesn't mean we can stop respecting risk and danger.


These kinds of beliefs can easily lead people to make impulsive decisions with an unrealistic measure of the risks and dangers involved. When we appropriately measure danger, and evaluate how much we can eliminate the risk, we can subdue it, but it's still there, and we need to give it the respect that it demands.


Reinforcing the Delusion


One aspect that cements these misconceptions into our being is the influence of society regarding individual responsibility. This is an important concept, but we can easily go overboard with it. Think of a stubborn person that you know who will never ask for help, or admit that they are struggling or unwell. Surely you have at least one person like this in your life. This is the embodiment of that cultural conditioning and pressure for us to be self-sufficient.


That feeling of pressure to be self-reliant leads us to feel like we should be able to do anything and undergo any amount of stress. This does not only affect our expectations of the potential of our breakfall and rolling skills, but it tends to promote overwork, encourage the neglect of self-care and rest, and thus increase our risk of injury and physical fragility.


Aside from the overall mentality that our societal attitude encourages, there are also cultural conventions related to fitness, health, self-reliance, and athleticism that may distort one's sense of responsibility and expectations. Let's further break down each of these factors reinforcing delusion about injury prevention.


The Reinforcement of Confirmation Bias


People can also tend to selectively perceive that which aligns with their beliefs. Such a proclivity towards seeking a confirmation of one's bias can lead someone to inflate their ideals of what the results of injury prevention can achieve. It's an easy trap to fall into, only accepting information that supports your preconceptions.


It's important to stay open to discussions and information that challenges your beliefs. The more emotional you feel about your resistance to the concept presented, suggests a far-lean away from your own biases. You can entertain opposing ideas, and fully explore them openly. You don't have to make a commitment to adopt them, or exchange your beliefs for the new ones, but if you can't set aside your resistance while you explore these conflicting ideals, then you're practicing ignorance. Even if you come away from a discussion without having changed your beliefs, your perspective can only grow by challenging them.


The Influence of Fictional Media


Indulging in art forms such as fictional books, tv shows, films, and video games, and seeing the expression of human imagination can also distort a person's accurate perception of what is possible. When we spend our entire lives indulging and connecting with these fantasies, it's easy to let our imagination, and our hold on reality bleed together, distorting our perception of what is possible and safe.


The Influence of Elite Athletes


Rightly so, people often idolize elite athletes and the way they build their bodies and capabilities. Most people consider athletes to be the healthiest human beings on the planet, but performance doesn't equate health, and people who try to copy the training regimen of such athletes usually don't even consider leveling up their self-care regimen to match.


Athletes can perform some pretty incredible feats, and in order to outperform their competitors at that level, they sacrifice their health for the sake of performance. When we copy their very intensive way of developing their bodies, without matching that with how we take care of ourselves, we are just setting ourselves up for injuries.


I'm not suggesting that you stop working out if that's something you love to do, but consider that higher intensity exercise comes at a cost, and if you don't pay that cost with self-care, you'll be building a debt in your health and balance in the long-run.


The Influence of Marketing


The influence of the marketing strategies of the media plays a massive role in distorting peoples' expectations. Surprised about that one? We are given a sense that there are products that create miraculous and instantaneous effects. It's not unless we need and use the product that we find out how much smoke is being blown. Thus, the majority of the public never experiences the truth hidden behind the marketing.


Obviously, the media hasn't been marketing injury prevention specifically, but we have been conditioned to expect unrealistic results from marketed products. This delusion has warped our expectation of what something like injury prevention practices can do for us. This also results in the expectation of quick fixes and instant results.


Don't Wait for your Wake Up Call


Eventually, everyone who overestimates their safety, and/or underestimates the risk and danger of intensive activities learn their lesson, and it usually changes their point of view. The internet is full of Parkour "fail" videos of people being injured doing something they've done hundreds of times. Many of these "fails" feature competent and confident young athletes who are considered masters of jumping, rolling, and moving through urban environments.


It's not uncommon to find a follow-up video from the athlete, describing how the injury has changed their perception. Breakfall and rolling skills are easy to learn, but take a lifetime to master, and the end result is not the permanent elimination of fall-damage. There actually isn't an end result, as you'll learn in your practice that there is always room for growth and refinement.


How to Steer Clear of Self-Destructive Delusion


Ultimately, the majority of people simply lack accurate information about the complexities of injury prevention. Most people lack the awareness to even recognize injury prevention as a practice. Without education and proper guidance, it's only natural to form our opinions based on what we have seen, and how we have been groomed to think, leading to misguided assumptions about injury prevention.


To avoid these common delusions, always maintain a healthy respect for risk and danger. Learn to listen to and trust your intuition. When you feel apprehension about something, it's probably something you should be careful with, so don't ignore those feelings.


Conclusion: Injury Prevention as the Base of your Pyramid


Injury prevention training is about: developing strong, flexible joints, and sturdy and resilient bones; honing more relaxed, responsive muscles and nerves; building body awareness, and better balance through proprioception training; learning and refining the practical skills of falling safely and decelerating a descent; repairing your relationship with the ground to become more confident and capable.


At the top of the list of most peoples' reasons for exercise is usually some aesthetic reason, or something related to strength or flexibility. It's natural to have these ego-driven, or social-admiration-seeking, or insecurities-fueled goals pushing us forward, but they are weak driving forces. When the going gets tough, these fickle goals quickly fall along the wayside, because they only matter when we have time to sit around comparing ourselves to other.


There's nothing wrong with having aesthetic goals, but they are like the spices in your meal. Mobility development, functional flexibility, joint strength, balance, and natural movement ability are like the fruits, roots, and substance of your meal. You could live on fruits and roots, but you won't sustain life for long on spices alone. I keep my goals focus on the main ingredients in the meal of life, and when times are good, I indulge in all the best spices! But even when it's all spiced up, the staple of my meal is what really nourishes my body.

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Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Good read. Good info

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