We all know that exercise is great for your health, but if it’s not done properly or overdone, exercise can backfire and cause major injury. Almost everyone has been affected by various degrees of exercise injury at some point in their lives, and most of these injuries could have been prevented with proper knowledge and common sense.
Here is a list of simple exercise guidelines that most people “conveniently” forget to do. In most cases following these guidelines is all that is needed in order to prevent an injury.
Know your Limits
Exercise beginners and those who are restarting after a long vaca from exercise are usually the biggest culprits when it comes to workout injuries because they tend to be over eager and push themselves too hard too fast. But workout pros are not off the hook either. Knowing what you’re doing can be dangerous because it causes you to slack off with technique or get overly confident.
Beginners – TAKE IT SLOW and learn proper technique. It is highly recommended to do at least two personal trainer sessions when getting started. Trainers are professionals and can teach you how to use the machines in your gym, have proper form, and build a workout plan that is right for you.
Pros – Keep an eye on your form in the mirror, or have a friend who knows what they’re doing watch you. Don’t get cocky: always add weight to your lifts gradually over time.
Determined to reach your fitness goal? A lot of people are so eager to lose weight or get buff that they push themselves too hard. Unless you’re an athlete or training for something specific it is recommended to take 1-2 days off in between each workout, and train for no more than 1 hour at a time. Alternatives would be to alternate hard sessions with easier ones, or to vary your routine so that you use different parts of your body on different days.
Your body needs time to heal and recovery properly, especially if you are sore or in pain, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY and give it the rest it needs!
Warm Up and Cool Down
A 5-10 minute cardio warm up (ex. jogging, jumping jacks, swimming, etc) before a vigorous cardio or strength training workout can help loosen your muscles and joints and prevent many different types of injuries such as muscle strains and tears.
Cooling down after workout can prevent excess strain on your heart, and also goes a long way in preventing soreness.
Make sure to be properly warmed up before stretching. Do a light stretch before a workout and more intense stretching as part of your cool down. Stretching helps relax and elongate muscles, prevents after workout soreness and injury due to muscles being too tight. The specific muscles that can cause injuries when tight include: hip flexors, hamstrings, low back, and shoulders. In addition, stretching between sets can help build muscle by aiding with muscular circulation.
Adjust the Machines
Are you one of the millions who just hops on a machine and does their set with no thought of re-adjusting the seat?
A seat that is too low on a weight machine will cause you to arch your back, which will run the risk of hurting your low back. A seat that is too high will risk injuring your shoulders.
When it comes to a stationary bike, a wrongly placed seat can risk hurting your knees or hips.
Proper Seat Height:
Weight machine: when your hands are on the handles, your hands should line up on the same level as your shoulder joints.
Bicycle: the seat level should allow for an approximate 30-degree bend in your knee when the pedal is at the lowest point.
This section involves a lot:
-Get enough sleep
-Don’t workout when too stressed or preoccupied
– Eat right. Eat enough.
All of the above can interfere with concentration and focus. Lack of concentration can lead to making mistakes, which can lead to major injury. If you are low on sleep, high on stress, or eating a too low calorie diet (because you are trying to lose weight) your muscles and brain may not respond quickly enough.
Being in this state doesn’t necessarily mean that you should skip your workout all together, but you may want to consider doing exercise that requires less concentration, such as a light resistance band workout as oppose to intense weight training.
A lot of us are guilty of holding our breath during intense exercise. Holding your breath can cause in a lot of internal pressure which can result in the common exercise injury known as a hernia. To avoid a hernia problem, just remember to breathe out during the most difficult portion of the exercise.
Pick the best Spotter
Finding the right spotter can be just as difficult as finding the perfect mate. If you’re lifting hard, you need someone who will be with you every step of the way, and not checking out the chick on the machine next door. Major injuries can happen if a spotter isn’t paying attention. Make sure you have a spotter who watches each rep as if you are on the verge of failure.
Don’t Cheap Out!
We are all tight on extra cash but skimping out when it comes to workout equipment can cost you your health. Make sure to get good quality workout shoes, clothing, and bike helmets. When it comes to work out equipment and machines check reviews, and try to stick to brand names and stay away from cheap imitations to avoid faulty equipment.
The Human Trainer is the safest suspension gym on the market. CLICK HERE to find out why.
One of the best ways to prevent major injury is to catch it early. Keep an eye on your body. A little soreness and stiffness is normal but pain, swelling, loss of strength and mobility, and skin discoloration isn’t.
If you notice any of these symptoms don’t play the tough guy/gal. Stay off of it and take care of it before it gets worse.
Check back into the blog on Thursday to learn more about how to Self-Treat Minor Exercise Injuries.