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Exercising Safely in Thailand

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There are plenty of reasons why doctors stress the importance of maintaining a physically active lifestyle. From reducing the risk of obesity to improving emotional well-being to reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems, the benefits of regular exercise are numerous and well-documented.

However, in a country like Thailand where temperatures routinely soar above 40 degrees Celsius, it is important to take basic precautions when taking part in any strenuous physical activity, particularly when outdoors for a prolonged period of time. Both serious athletes and casual sports enthusiasts need to make a point of staying safe.

Know your limits

Much of the language surrounding personal training and sports centers around individuals pushing themselves past their own personal limits. Commercials and promotional slogans urge athletes to ignore physical pain and keep going, no matter what. Although this level of stoicism and determination is admirable in theory, in practice it can be incredibly dangerous. Overexertion in hot, humid climates can quickly lead to heatstroke and dehydration. If you feel your body failing or find yourself becoming dizzy, do the smart thing and take a water break.

Be aware of proper technique

Yes, you need grit and determination to get in shape. You also need a proper sense of what you are doing. Any physical activity, whether it is yoga or tennis, can result in injury if you are not careful. There is a reason that athletes emphasize using proper form when performing any repeated motion. Make sure you receive training or professional advice before regularly engaging in an intense activity.

Watch out for early signs of trouble

All physical activities carry an inherent risk of injury. The key to avoiding this is to notice early signs and symptoms, then address the problem as quickly as possible. Here are a few to watch out for when playing popular sports in Thailand.

  • Football

    Sports such as football that require sudden turning, lunging or rapid accelerations/sudden stops, can often result in a torn hamstring or anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). You may notice a “popping” sound, a swollen knee and excruciating pain in the case of the latter. You can help avoid this by warming up and stretching before each workout.

  • Golf

    Medial epicondylitis, commonly known as “golfer’s elbow,” is a regularly occurring condition in which tendons become inflamed and painful. Simple exercises such as wrist curls and reverse wrist curls can strengthen the area and help avoid this injury. If you notice significant pain in your arm when playing though, you may need to give yourself a rest.

  • Running

    Running puts a tremendous amount of stress on the joints. Make sure you stretch thoroughly and warm up gently, especially before any long-distance running. It is also helpful to cross-train with other low-impact forms of exercise (such as swimming) in order to minimize the damage.

Running puts a tremendous amount of stress on the joints. Make sure you stretch thoroughly and warm up gently, especially before any long-distance running. It is also helpful to cross-train with other low-impact forms of exercise (such as swimming) in order to minimize the damage.

Don’t wait to call for help

Tempting as it may be to ignore a relatively minor muscle ache, it is generally better to err on the safe side when it comes to your health. If you have any recurring pains, consult a physician immediately rather than waiting for it to develop into something more serious.

References.

    1. Mayo Clinic: Overuse injury: How to prevent training injuries. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/overuse-injury/art-20045875?pg=2. Accessed on April 30, 2015.
    2. American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons: Golf Injury Prevention. Available from: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00137&webid=24DAE050. Accessed on April 30, 2015.

Photo Credit: David Rowe via Compfight cc


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