Out on a limb
If you are about to launch into the football season, get stuck into cross-country running or are gearing up for a winter sports holiday, a simple test can help flag up whether you are an injury waiting to happen. You can do it right now, as long as you're not too hungover - it's called the single leg balance test, and all you need to do is stand on one leg and raise the opposite foot off the floor (not touching the supporting leg). Once you've got your balance, close your eyes. You pass the test if you can maintain your balance for 10 seconds. Out of 230 athletes tested in a study published in the British Journal Of Sports Medicine, those who didn't pass had a significantly higher rate of ankle sprains in the following season. If you are a bit wobbly, you may want to consider taping or strapping your ankles before you go out to play - or see a physiotherapist for some lower leg-strengthening exercises.
Loving a cold climate
I have a question for you: are you catering for your body's microclimate? What do you mean you don't know, or care? It's a worry that caused enough concern at sportswear clothing company WL Gore & Associates for them to design a new jacket that aims 'not only to guarantee the wearer a general feeling of comfort, but to take on various parts of the upper torso as though it were an atlas with different climate zones'. Using the concept of 'comfort mapping', the new System jacket is fashioned from various types of Gore-Tex, to offer high breathability where it's needed (such as under the arms and across the back), freedom of movement, via stretchier inserts at those areas where greatest range of motion is needed, and maximum warmth in vulnerable areas - all in all protecting you from the cold, wind, rain or snow. The System jacket is also lightweight, reflective, and rather expensive; £219.99, 0800 833357 for stockists.
Ticket to ride
Want to know how to improve your cycling in two hours, without breaking a sweat (or injecting anything...)? Get yourself a CycleFit appointment. The only facility of its kind in Europe, CycleFit offers a comprehensive ergonomic assessment of your flexibility, anthropometry (body part measurements), posture, foot mechanics, cycling action and muscular balance - to maximise your performance. It's like gait analysis on a bike - and it's something that CycleFit technician Phil Cavell believes is overlooked. 'Cycling involves strapping yourself on to a symmetrical machine with your feet, pelvis and hands in a fixed position,' he says. 'But since none of us is symmetrical, we have to adjust ourselves to fit the bike, unwittingly reducing our efficiency and increasing the risk of injuries. CycleFit is about adjusting the bike to fit the person' - even if that bike has a basket on the front: CycleFit counts commuters, triathletes and world champions among its customers. CycleFit is based in London and costs £150 for a two-hour appointment; 020-7430 0083 for details (cyclefit.co.uk).