5 Ways to Avoid Workout Injuries
When asked, I always say it can be one of these three scenarios that slow progress or leads to injury: doing the correct activity/exercise too much or too often, doing a good activity/exercise incorrectly, and choosing the wrong activity/movement for you or your current physical conditioning level.
Here are some simple ways you can work out smarter and avoid the most common fitness injuries.
- Know Your Body
One of the best ways to avoid fitness injuries is to know your body’s limitations. Understanding how to train yourself with your life’s history is essential. No one knows your body and your physical background better than you. Are you dealing with an old injury that was never properly rehabbed? Do you have imbalances in strength or mobility from one side of your body to another? Are the genetics in your family leading you toward certain weaknesses? Are you lacking proper cardiovascular conditioning or proper functional strength to accomplish your daily tasks? All of these questions, if not properly addressed, could be setting you up for failure.
These are basic questions you should consider (along with many others) prior to designing a workout program or routine. Designing a workout program is not a “one size fits all” endeavor. Please don’t go on websites to see the latest fads, use your friends new found workout plan, or worst of all, emulate what you see others doing on the gym floor.
- Act Your Age
It starts out the same every time. You enter the gym or step on the gym floor and your memory kicks in of movements or activities you did when you were in high school or college. Never mind that it’s been years since you last did squats, bench press, or sprinted on a treadmill you still jump back in where you left off.
A good rule of thumb is: If you’re old enough to remember a time before smart phones, maybe you shouldn’t be attempting a power clean nor doing a Karate Kid crane-kick.
This obviously isn’t the case for everyone. Some are still fit and healthy, but there is always time to reassess the cost/ benefit of some movements in order to prevent a time consuming injury.
My suggestion is start a basic routine of functional movements utilizing your core and build baseline strength. Once you’ve mastered planks, dynamic warm ups, step ups, and bodyweight movements, then you can proceed to more complex dynamic strength moves.
- Understand Dynamic Warm Ups and Movement Tempos
Whatever type of fitness activity you’re doing, you’re less likely to get injured if you warm up before every session and slowly build the pace of your workout over time.
The warm-up helps the muscles to handle stress and heats them so they are less likely to be injured. If doing resistance training, I always suggest 5 minutes of cardiovascular machines to get your heart rate elevated and blow flow circulating.
Then move to some bodyweight movements in a dynamic (flowing stretch) manner. Once loosened up, head to the heavier resistance exercises.
Start with weights you can lift for 8-12 reps, and do no more than three sets. When that gets easy, increase the weight by just 2% at your next session. Be sure to go slowly on the Eccentric Contraction phase (resisting gravity) as it’s the most important for Hypertrophy (muscle cell growth).
Be careful when selecting weights as overestimating your strength will lead to improper technique and recruitment of auxiliary muscles, which can in turn lead to a higher risk of injury.
- Don’t Overdo It
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While doing one exercise over and over will certainly help you perfect it, it can also set you up for a workout injury.
When you repeat the same muscle movements, it leads to overuse and repetitive use injuries such as: shin splints, tendinitis, and serious muscle soreness.
The way to avoid problems is to vary your workouts. Make sure your workout routine has constant changes to movements with a great deal of variety. Try to add breaks in between resistance exercises like core movements or quick cardio type bursts (HIIT) training. This keeps your workout flowing and fresh each time.
Keep in mind that recovery is just as crucial as training. It’s important to give muscles adequate rest between workouts. Also, you should be getting adequate sleep and nutrition to aid recovery.
- Hire a Pro
One of the best ways to avoid injury is to take a few lessons from one of our certified trainers. This will help ensure your body is in proper alignment while you’re working out, which can go a long way toward protecting you from exercise injuries.
Getting expert advice can also keep you from doing the wrong workouts based on your fitness level or training history and help you moderate your routines so you don’t do too much, too soon.
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Our trainers will assist you in understanding the appropriate progression of exercises, weight selection, and rest periods. The right program will allow muscles to heal properly, which in turn helps avoid some of the more common injuries.
Understanding these 5 basic concepts before you ramp up your workout routine will significantly decrease your chance of injury!
I want you to get the most out of your commitment and dedication in the gym. If you’re making a valiant effort to improve your health, I applaud you, and want to see you be successful. If you have any questions please reach out to me or any of our certified training staff for assistance. I want to make sure you get moving in the right direction.
Stay Healthy and Active,
Scott A. Jansen
Magnuson Athletic Club Fitness Manager