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Through the lens of building wellness

Injury prevention is an important topic. Especially in youngsters who want to be active.

Last week I gave an online talk for We Are Girls in Sport Wellness Month looking at injury prevention in teenage girls. Of course, much equally applies to boys.

Watch here

There are some basic principles to follow. However, as with treating chronic pain, I believe that we can come through the lens of wellness.

We can choose to focus on pain or injury prevention. Alternatively, we can concentrate on building wellness in our lives. In my opinion, this is a positive approach that goes beyond sport and thinks about the person and his/her needs — the person over player approach, or person-first.

Thankfully, there are moves in this direction within coaching and other fields. Coaching is the business of human beings.

Here is a brief summary of the talk.

The Basics

Each sport and activity will have its own considerations: equipment that is fit for purpose, the right (protective) clothing, a prepared and appropriate environment and people who understand the nature of what is being done. They should also be able to communicate the rules of play.

Further, we (coaches, teachers, parents) create an engaging environment. The participants also have a role and demonstrate motivation in the first instance by turning up.

Clear instructions and the feedback delivered skilfully ensures that everyone knows their role and what they are trying to achieve.

We learn when we feel safe, know that we can make mistakes to learn (a must!) and that we will be supported and encouraged. Coaches and teachers can consider the way that they communicate: eg/ voice tone, posturing. Motivational interviewing offers a huge amount.

These are some of the basics. You will think of others of course.

Building wellness

The essence of building wellness is to shape a positive future in one’s life. It is a choice.

Re-stating an important point, we can attempt to prevent injury for fear of it happening, or we can focus on building wellness. Three of the key components are sleep, breathing and moving.

Below I describe some of the things I help people understand and practice in the clinic, before they take them into their world to make the difference to their life.

How is your sleep? Do you get enough at the right time? How do you feel when you get up? Rested? Good sleep is necessary for performance in life.

How do you breathe? Nose or mouth? Noisy or quiet? Effortful or effortless? Over-breathing or efficient? We must breathe well to oxygenate our brains and bodies. There are a number of basic practices we can use each day to achieve this and feel more energised, recover from exertions and think more clearly.

How much do you move? Are there long periods of sitting that need to be broken up. Motion is lotion is a strategy of moving in different ways through the day, to nourish your body and brain. There may be some specific exercises that are important for each individual that we explore.

What matters to you?

Are you fully connected with what matters? To be disconnected can cause stress, which of course increases the risk of illness and injury if prolonged.

There are many reasons why youngsters are experiencing on-going stress in the modern world. Pressures to be or look a certain way, demands from school, family and themselves, and unrealistic expectations are common examples. All may appear to be well on the outside, but what is happening inside? The inner world.

Understanding what the person values and helping them connect with this is a key part of wellbeing and hence performance. We need to be connected with people who encourage us, a sense of purpose, the planet (getting into nature) and our body to feel whole.

Shaping a positive future

The first step is to clarify what your positive future looks like. What are your images and words? What language are you using? Does it encourage you onwards?

Then we can design a way. What are my daily habits that help me step towards my picture of success?

We can argue that our habits determine our future and the quality of our lives. The choices I make now, sculpt my experiences to come. On knowing where you want to go, but recognising where you are right now, you can make best decisions.

If you like, you can take the opportunity now to clarify your picture(s) of success. You can then start to plan how you will get there, perhaps with some guidance and help from a pot filler. This is someone who sees your potential and encourages you (read more here).

Being well is one of our greatest buffers to life’s inevitable ups and downs. We will face challenges and we can choose how we view them. Some people find it helpful to think about challenges as opportunities to grow and learn, despite the discomfort and suffering. The obstacles become the way. There is little in life to be gained from being comfortable.

What does your positive future look like?

The purpose of pain

Being active, we will experience aches and pains. There is also a chance that we will be injured.

Understanding pain is important because it will inform the decisions we make under these circumstances.

You can learn more about the purpose of pain here, where I outline some of the key facts.


My encouragement is to focus on your day to day habits of being well. I hope you can see that in doing this you are incorporating injury prevention but without thinking about it. You are also building resilience and wellness for other important things in your life. Because you are a whole person first, not just a player or an athlete. A person.


Richmond is currently writing a practical book for people suffering persisting pain to help them understand their pain and then move on to shape a positive future.