Now that I’ve been injury free for awhile, I want to share what I’ve learned over the last year. Injuries prevent you from doing what you love! And when you stop moving, you stop living. It’s well worth it to prevent them. Whether you’re just starting a workout program or have been underway awhile, be sure to follow these “best practices” of working out.
Allow Your Body to Recover
Avoiding overtraining is my most important tenet – I will not budge on it. You may be excited about a new program or just have Crazy Gym Love like me. You figure, if working out feels good, then working out twice as much must be even better! Wrong.
Everyone’s different so you have to find out what you body can take. For me, training each muscle group twice a week was too much. My body revolted by handing out aches and pains.
With weight training, you must let your muscles recover for 48 hours between sessions. That includes not doing heavy resistance elliptical training the day after leg presses.
Build a Strong Foundation
What’s the first thing you should do before you begin any exercise? The answer is to tighten your core. It’s a habit for me now because I know my core is my built-in injury preventer. When I tighten my core, I can feel it supporting the rest of my body during exercises. You can be sure that many exercises, including stiff-legged Deadlifts and squats, have the potential to strain your lower back.
A strong core – your lower back, hips, and abs – will save you when it comes to injuries. Make it a priority to build these muscles.
Be Kind to Your Muscles
You know you should warm up and cool down. But it’s easy to skip, isn’t it? You’re in a hurry to get weight lifting and you skip five minutes on the elliptical. Or you’re rushing out the door and skip stretching.
I’m someone who can really tell a difference when I don’t warm up or stretch after a workout. My muscles feel stiff, plain and simple. Do you really want to start lifting weights with stiff muscles? Or leave the gym after a tough workout feeling like your muscles aren’t quite “done?” Don’t leave yourself open to injury just to save five minutes.
Stiff muscles are injury-prone muscles. Enough said.
Do it Right
Before I do a new exercise, I learn how to do it right. Bad form has very predictable results – it creates injuries.
Tighten your core before every exercise and use the proper range of motion. Understand how far back your elbows should go. Be aware of whether you’re arching your back. Watch your knees to make sure they don’t go past your toes. These are just a few principals that prevent injury.
There are countless exercise videos on Bodybuilding.com and Livestrong.com that can show you proper form. Once you have the basic principals of form down, your body will remember them and it will become second nature.
This list isn’t all-inclusive. What do YOU do to prevent injury?