Summer’s arrived and it’s finally warm enough to enjoy the most the outdoors has to offer. It’s a time when we tend to dust off our running shoes, or pull out unused sports equipment from the back of the cupboard in an effort to get active and shed our winter coat.

While this is great for our health and wellbeing, it’s important to exercise safely to prevent an injury from happening. A sporting injury can be a nuisance in the short term, but some can also lead to more serious problems such as severe knee pain or osteoarthritis.

You might be tempted to just jump straight into training, but it’s best to build your training up gradually. This means slowly increasing the frequency, intensity and duration of your workout over time. You also need to give your body time to rest, so take the day off after any strenuous exercise, or if you really want to work out, try exercising a different muscle group instead.

It can also help to warm up and down by going for a brisk five minute walk before and after your workout, and doing a few light stretches of the major muscle groups. Depending on the sport you’re doing, you should also warm up by practicing some of the movements you’re about do. So if you’re going to play tennis, this could include doing a few practice swings, short sprints and side steps across the court.

You should also tailor your exercise regime to the type of sport you plan to do. For example, if you plan on running, it’s important to also strengthen the muscles in your hips and legs. Your doctor or a personal trainer should be able to give you some advice on what to include in your programme.

Good body alignment is key to sports injury prevention, particularly in avoiding joint injuries. A joint is less vulnerable when it’s in a mid-range position, so it’s more likely to be injured if it’s in an extreme or off-balanced position. Again, you may want to get some advice about your chosen sport from a personal trainer or a physiotherapist.

Last but not least is getting the right footwear. A pair of poor-fitting running shoes can lead to a lot of misery. Sports shoes need to suit both your activity and the way you move. A specialist sports store should be able to assess your style and kit you out with the gear.

If you’re already suffering from osteoarthritis or severe knee pain, read our blog post about the benefit of moderate, low impact exercise here.