[Video] Preventing injury – advice from professional athletes

profile picture of Will Bayley
Paralympic table tennis player
28 July 2021
Next review due July 2024

To be successful in sport, you have to learn to manage and look after your body. Maintaining strong muscles, and staying flexible and mobile, is the key to performing at your best level and avoiding injury.

In this video, myself and fellow athletes, Hannah Cockroft and Nile Wilson, talk about looking after your muscles, bones and joints. We share our tips for preventing injury and keeping yourself in the best physical shape.

Key points from the video

Personal experiences

Hannah Cockroft, Paralympic athlete

“I’ve never had an injury, so I must be quite good at injury prevention! It’s been drummed into me to always do a good warm up, and always do a good cool down. Always have the recovery between reps, and always do your stretching. These little things will make a big difference.”

Will Bayley, Paralympic athlete

“I tore my cruciate ligament in my knee. I didn’t realise what a big operation it was. I’m trying to learn about my injury and I’m still managing my knee every day. I get really stiff joints, so I work with physiotherapists often. A lot of the exercises I do in the gym with them is to prevent injury.”

Nile Wilson, gymnast

“The biggest thing people neglect is flexibility and mobility. Often, a muscle is pulled because you’ve got into a position that your body isn’t used to. My first real experience of injury was when I was 14. I had a double stress fracture in my lower back. When I was 18, I torn the cartilage in my wrist. When I was 21, I snapped my ankle. I’m sort of used to the process of surgery and rehab, but it never gets easier. Being in tune with your body is really powerful.”

Athletes’ tips for preventing injury

Warm up and cool down

Make time before any workout, run or sport session to do a proper warm up and cool down. This should include some dynamic stretches (stretches that work your muscles and joints through their full range of motion) and light aerobic activity.

Stretch often

Keep your muscles and joints flexible and mobile by doing some stretching and mobility exercises every day. Focus especially on the muscle groups you use for your sport or exercise. For example, if you’re a runner, focus on leg and hip stretches.

Strengthen your muscles

Keeping your muscles strong helps to reduce injury. Aim to do two strength training sessions a week, such as using weights or doing body weight exercises.

Listen to your body

Be aware of your own fitness levels and don’t push yourself beyond your fitness level. If you have any kind of injury or niggle, don’t carry on. Always see a professional, such as a physiotherapist, for assessment and treatment.

If you have a muscle, bone or joint problem, our direct access service aims to provide you with the advice, support and treatment you need as quickly as possible. If you’re covered by your health insurance, you’ll be able to get advice from a physiotherapist usually without the need for a GP referral. Learn more today.

profile picture of Will Bayley
Will Bayley MBE
Paralympic table tennis player

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