Take Control of Your Body and Prevent Injury

We all have a huge opportunity to prevent injury, and improve our ability to bounce back quickly if we do get injured. Effective injury prevention will never truly occur, however, until we take complete responsibility for our own bodies and actions. This is something we, as a society, often don’t do so well.

In our current culture, external faults are often blamed for our misfortunes. We are losing the ability to think proactively about our own circumstances.

We all have a phenomenal capacity to prevent injury if we commit to simple strategies and increase our awareness. Here are some examples to illustrate the role of personal responsibility in injury management:


A man trips on the step of a shop and falls, injuring his ankle

Outcome 1: Playing the blame game

The man blames the shop for not making the step more noticeable, and for not building a ramp . . . BUT . . . this man is unfit, overweight, has poor balance and wears unstable slip on shoes.

Outcome 2: Proactive personal responsibility

If the man had employed strategies to ensure he had a good level of fitness, great balance, a healthy weight and well fitted footwear (and simply looked where he was going), the trip may have been either avoided or inconsequential. However, if he did fall, he would have recovered quickly and fully, and walked away unscathed.


A lady slips down a few stairs at work, grabbing the railing and causing a shoulder injury

Outcome 1: Playing the blame game

She is furious at her employer for not placing a non-slip strip on the stairs and takes a few weeks off to ride the specialist appointment merry-go-round. Her boss gets annoyed at her missing work and creating drama; this causes the lady to become stressed and anxious leading to counselling and protracted recovery.

Outcome 2: Proactive personal responsibility

If the lady had had good shoulder range, good spinal mobility and healthy tissues as a result of regular exercise, she would have recovered quickly and fully from this incident. If the lady was trim with rapid balance reactions, it’s possible she would not have slipped in the first place. This story does NOT address whether the workplace should have had non-slip strips on their stairs––this is a separate issue. The point is that an injury resistant body would have either avoided, or bounced back easily from this accident.


A young man is working on the roof of his single story house and overbalances

Outcome 1: Oh dear

The man falls to the ground. He fractures a vertebra in his spine. Everyone who visits him in hospital mentions how unlucky he was. Unfortunately, he didn’t take responsibility for his own safety prior to the fall––he was not using any safety equipment.

Outcome 2: Responsible planning

The man could have contracted a professional to do the roofing job avoiding the risk all together. Alternatively, he could have borrowed the correct safety equipment from his tradesman buddy meaning that he was protected on the roof and was unlikely to fall in the first place.


Similar self-responsibility should be taken with any exercises that your health professional gives you, or fitness programs that you follow. Always start gently and build up gradually. If any of the exercises don’t agree with you, follow up with a trusted health professional. Don’t, however, use a bit of pain as an excuse to abandon this programme altogether. Follow it up and work on getting to the point where you can participate. There is too much at stake to find excuses. You are the only person who can take responsibility for you.

Your next steps

What is your risk of sustaining a musculoskeletal injury? Complete the free Injury Risk Indicator and find out.

If you want to find out what you can do to prevent injury, the Before You Break book can help.