Fitness Saturday: Injury Prevention, 101

  • UNNECESSARY TENSION. Holding unnecessary tension anywhere in the body while exercising can lead to a strain. Always take a “sigh” exhale before beginning an exercise and try to let go of any unnecessary tension in the body. Try to get to know your tension spots, the places you usually grip, like the neck or shoulders, or buttocks or feet. If you can relax before and breathe with your movements, you will more likely be working with your body, rather than against it.
  • NOT SUFFICIENTLY PREPARED. It sounds so common sense, but you would be surprised how often this is the reason why people get injured. It is the classic weekend warrior syndrome — doesn’t exercise all week, then goes out and plays hard on the weekend and gets injured. To be truly effective, and to reduce the risk of injury, training needs to be consistent, progressive, and balanced. Someone who hasn’t run in months (or years) can’t suddenly go out and run like they used to just because they decide they are going to do it. Just like it would be silly to try to lift something too heavy for you, the same is true with trying to do an aerobic activity at an intensity level (speed) or duration that you are not used to. Same thing applies with flexibility exercises. Someone who hasn’t done any stretching for years and then goes into a power yoga class is setting themselves up for a strained, even a pulled muscle. For most people who are de-conditioned and want to start exercising it is recommended to start with simple, functional strength, balance, and flexibility exercises.
  • NOT WARMING UP. Always do a thorough warm-up before exercising, which should include some gentle dynamic movements like leg and arm swings, brisk walking, short/light repetitions of planned exercises, etc.
  • SET A REASONABLE GOAL. Set a reasonable goal for each workout. Remember, you have to start from where you are, and not from where you were when you were in shape. Anything that is new, or you haven’t done in a long while, needs to be approached carefully and performed at moderate intensity and duration so that the body can gradually get used to it. 
  • FAULTY OR DANGEROUS EQUIPMENT. Many people bravely attempt to use an exercise machine or recreational equipment and proceed to have an accident that injures them. Please make sure the machine is working properly or the recreational equipment is in good working order before using. Once again, common sense, but easily overlooked. Take some time to be sensible in your workouts. Never sacrifice good form for more intensity. Be gradual in your planning and be consistent in your schedule. Here’s hoping that the exercising you choose, and the way you do it, makes you healthier and injury free for the long term.

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