We all have been there – the dreaded injury. Maybe it was a clumsy misstep that turned into a sprained ankle. Maybe it was experimenting a new exercise without learning the proper form. Or maybe you don’t even know what exactly you did that resulted in the injury.
Good news is there are ways to lessen the chances of an injury – as long as we take the proper precautions ahead of time. Certified trainer Darcy M of Wellbeats shares her top 5 ways to avoid that dreaded injury:
- Always Warm Up
A proper warm-up should get your heart rate up, improve mobility by lubricating your joints and charge the nervous system for the work to come. It prevents injury and prepares your body for the training session. Take a few extra minutes at the start of every workout to do a proper warm-up. Start with dynamic movements (jumping jacks, jogging or skipping in place) that will elevate your heart rate. From there think about movements that you plan to do in your workout and take your body through those moves with just your body weight as a “rehearsal” to make sure you can do the move properly before you add resistance. Pay close attention to your joints and make sure they are able to move freely so you can get the most out of your workout!
- Prioritize Your Workout by Your Goal
If your goal is getting stronger and adding muscle, do your strength training before cardio. Cardiovascular training is taxing on your energy reserves and that limits the amount of effort you can exert while lifting weights. That could lead to injury if your body is too exhausted. Instead of doing a full-on cardio session before your strength training, move it to another day or do it after lifting if your goal is to build strength.
- Set Small, Incremental Goals
We live in a world full of instant gratification, but progress at the gym regardless of your goal isn’t instantaneous. Set small, incremental and attainable goals. Chart your workouts, so when you look back, you’ll be able to see how much you’ve accomplished.
- Train All of Your Core Muscles
Your core is made up of muscles on the front, back and sides of your body. Too many people focus on training the front of their body looking for the “six-pack abs” and neglect the opposing muscle groups. Opposing muscles are sets of muscles that work together to assist you in moving your body. If these muscles are strengthened together, it creates a balance between the two. So while you may want to do lots of crunches to improve your abdominals, if you don’t do an opposite exercise to strengthen your back, you may end up with low back pain.
- Take Time to Recover
Make sure you balance your work days with recovery days to reduce your chances of injury and allow your body to heal. Without effective recovery, muscle growth and performance will be limited. This may even lead to a muscle strain or injury. A recommended recovery technique is foam rolling. Foam rolling is one of the great muscle recovery techniques because it helps restore range of motion and eliminate the tightness and pain that often comes with inflammation as a result of training sessions. Another recovery strategy is getting enough sleep. When the body is asleep, it goes through several important processes that repair muscle tissue and restores balance to the rest of the body. There is important work being done when your body is at rest… don’t take it for granted!
Although it would be nice to say following through on all the steps above will eliminate the chance of injury altogether, it will significantly reduce the odds of it happening. What have you done to avoid injury? Let us know in the comments or tag us using @Wellbeats.