By Adam Pounds, EIM Owner
There’s no doubt that regular exercise has its many benefits for both the body and mind. Getting in regular workouts makes our bodies stronger and healthier while leaving our minds more clear and focused.
While providing all of these benefits, it’s safe to say that exercise is safe for most. But of course, you can’t rule out the potential for injury if you’re not taking the proper precautions.
Avoiding injury is one of my top priorities when it comes to working with my clients. I want them to reap all the benefits of working out without experiencing any type of injury along the way.
Whether you’re a client of mine, or just happen to come across my blog looking for the best ways to avoid injury, I strongly encourage you to take the steps I’ve outlined below in order to stay safe and injury-free during exercise.
#1 Learn Common Causes of Exercise Injuries
Exercise injuries can vary, but there are a few common causes you should be aware of in order to avoid them.
You’re going to increase your chances of injury if you are:
- Exercising before your body has fully warmed up
- Repeating the same motion over and over
- Performing the exercise with improper form
- Not allowing your body to rest and recover between workouts
- Attempting an exercise that is too strenuous for your level of fitness
- Not using proper equipment
If you are new to working out, a personal trainer is a great way to start off on the right path as they can help you load the proper weight and ensure that you’re using proper form.
#2 Remember to Warm Up
Don’t jump into high intensity cardio or weightlifting without a warmup! If you do, you’re definitely going to increase your risk of injury since cold muscles are stiff and more likely to get injured.
Warming up before beginning your exercise is a key step in avoiding exercise injury. The warm-up pumps nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood to your muscles, as your heart rate and breathing increases.
A good warm up should last about five to ten minutes. Loosen up by taking a brisk walk, jog or run. When your muscles are warmed up, then you’re good to begin your higher intensity cardio or weightlifting.
#3 Stop Skipping the Cool Down
Equally as important as the warmup is the cool down. A cool down at the end of your workout helps aid in muscle recovery and decreases soreness. You should also cool down after exercise to bring your heart rate and body temperature back to normal.
So the next time you work out, don’t just rush out of the door when you’re finished. Take the time to properly cool down. Continue your exercise at a slower pace and reduced intensity for about five to ten minutes. Trust me, your body will thank you.
#4 Stay Hydrated
You can decrease your risk of muscular cramps and injuries by staying hydrated. Dehydration is an electrolyte imbalance in the body that’s easily preventable with proper preparation.
Take short breaks throughout your exercises to have a sip of water or your sports drink. Sipping on water before and after your workout is important too, as it helps make up for water lost while sweating away.
According to the American Council on Exercise, you should:
-Consume up to twenty ounces of fluid a couple hours before you begin your workout
-Drink another eight ounces a half hour before starting your workout.
-Consume seven to ten ounces every ten to twenty minutes or so while you workout
#5 Work on Flexibility
Though it’s unclear whether stretching helps prevent injury, it’s important to stretch a few times per week. You can stretch either after you’ve warmed up or after you exercise. Stretching often feels good and is a great way to relax post exercise, but there are a few tips to remember:
- Do not stretch cold muscles. This can cause muscles to actually tighten and increase your risk of injury.
- Do not hold stretches for more than 30 seconds. Studies show that stretching is most beneficial in the first 30 seconds, anything beyond that may be a waste of time.
- Do not bounce. Bouncing can damage your ligaments and tendons by applying too much force to these soft tissues.
#6 Choose the Right Exercise
If you haven’t been active for some time, or have a health condition, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor or a healthcare provider before embarking on a new exercise routine. Your doctor may provide you with a list of the best exercises for your condition.
Oftentimes, the best way to begin is to start out slow with low-intensity options such as walking, swimming or riding a stationary bike. These types of low-intensity exercises are less likely to cause injury and a great way to ease back into an exercise routine.
#7 Use the Right Equipment
Using the right equipment can greatly reduce your risk of injury. Ask your trainer to show you how to properly use the equipment and make sure your exercise equipment:
- Fits you properly
- Is the right design for your activity
- Is in good working condition
- Is used correctly and consistently
- Is loaded properly
#8 Learn and Use Proper Form
If you’re confused about how to perform a certain exercise, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Asking a trainer for help with proper form is crucial in avoiding exercise injury.
Correct form and posture while performing certain exercises also ensures you get the most out of every rep.
#9 Listen to Your Body
To build strength and stamina, you will need to push your body. However, the key is to gradually build up to make sustainable progress. But don’t overexert yourself. Taking adequate rest between sets and gym days helps to avoid injuries and build stamina faster.
You can expect sore muscles after your workouts, but you should never feel pain while exercising. If you do feel pain, stop what you’re doing right away!
Moreover, if you’re tired all the time, you may be overdoing it. Avoid increasing the number of days you exercise, the length of time you exercise and how hard you work out all at once if you want to get the best out of your workouts.
These are the tips I utilize with my clients each and every day. I want them to leave the studio feeling amazing, and not hurting from an injury that could have easily been avoided.
Whether you work out with a personal trainer, in a gym or in your own home, I highly recommend you follow these tips and develop safe habits so you can continue getting in regular exercise and avoid injury along the way.