An active lifestyle is recommended over and over again for both physical and mental wellbeing. But going about it in a haphazard way can lead to injuries like sprains, strains, and more serious injuries.
This post will talk about several ways you can prevent or reduce your risk of injury when exercising.
warm up & cool down
Every activity should begin with a warm-up and end with a cool down. Warming up helps ready your heart and muscles for a workout. If you have been sitting at a computer all day before hitting the gym, loosening up your stiff and tight muscle and joints is key before expecting your body to move through the correct range of motion during your exercises.
Your warm-up doesn't need to be challenging, and it's up to you if you prefer a cardio-based warm-up or a movement-based warm-up.
Cooling down is important to let your body acclimate back to resting state. You can end your job with a walking cool down, or finish up your weight session with some dynamic movements that both stretch your body and let your heart rate come down.
don't forget to stretch
Perform some dynamic stretches before and after your workout to help condition your muscles after your warm-up and after your workout.
Combine your warm-up and stretching with this routine.
tune-in to your body
Your endurance and strength may vary from workout-to-workout based on a number of factors not always in your control. It's important to listen to your body rather than to hold tight to a mindset of "no pain no gain". If you normally do 3 sets of 10 reps, but on the 2nd set your legs aren't feeling right - don't do that 3rd set! You may risk injuring yourself, and then you'd be out for weeks.
If you wake up the day after a workout and feel more muscle soreness than normal, dial whatever you had planned that day back. If you were going to do another workout, swap it for yoga or mindful stretching with rest, ice and/or heat.
Don't jump into new routines at 150%. Even if you are experienced and moving from one type of exercise routine to another, start slow and at lower weights or speed so your body can acclimate to the new movements and build strength, flexibility, and muscle memory. It's often doing too much too soon that leads to injuries.
take injuries seriously
Injuries aren't always avoidable. Doctors still recommend "RICE" - rest, ice, compression, and elevate. Apply ice to the affected area for 20 mins on, 20 mins off in order to bring down swelling. Use a compression bandage as well. Elevate the affected area at heart level.
Depending on the location of your injury, you may be able to purchase supportive braces or sleeves that can help you recover. They are often stiffer when recovering from an injury, and then you can purchase more flexible items, like a knee or elbow sleeve, to wear as a support when you return to the gym.
This post is not medical advice. Always consult with a health care provider before beginning a new exercise routine.
a blog about health, wellness, nutrition, and fitness from an epidemiologist / dietitian with personal trainer experience
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