Exercise related injuries could happen to anyone. People hurt themselves in all sorts of ways, but there are various workout precautions you can take that are readily available to prevent an injury happening to you.
Most exercise experts would agree that a warm-up and cool down are necessary to lower your risk of injury. A warm-up usually involves your planned activity at a slower pace, allowing increased blood flow to your muscles. If you have a road run planned, warm up with a slow jog. Dynamic stretching warms up the body by emphasizing on one or more muscle groups. Jogging butt-kicks are a great example because they emphasize on the quadriceps while increasing blood flow throughout the body. Cooling down after a workout is just as important as a warm-up. Cooling down allows your body to reach your normal, resting heart rate and allows your blood pressure to recover. If your planned activity involved a road run, a brisk to gentle walk will provide sufficient recovery. The American Heart Association recommends warming up for 5-10 minutes and cooling down for 5 minutes or until heart rate is below 120 bpm.
While warming up and cooling down reduce your risk of injury, injuries can still happen. Living your life based on the “no pain, no gain” philosophy only increases your risk to injuries that are easily preventable. When something is not working correctly, your body will let you know. Listen to your body. It will not only lower your risk of injuries, but also keep you safe while engaging in regular physical activity. For example, when a person is engaging in a squat exercise and feels pain in their knees, a simple correction of form may eliminate the pain altogether. Overuse, muscle imbalance, improper form and lack of flexibility are all common causes of pain. Improper form could result in a pulled muscle or other injury. Pain should never be ignored. It’s important to be able to distinguish your pain and what is causing it in order to remain injury free.
Having an injury is all too often used as an excuse not to engage in physical activity, but it doesn’t need to be. Several studies have shown that you can maintain your fitness level, even when your regular exercises are cut for months due to injury. Regular physical activity may even help you heal quicker than just sitting on the couch. Knowing what you can and cannot do will allow you to maintain your fitness level. Seek help from a personal trainer or other health related professional to help you stay injury free.
Having an injury is a great opportunity to participate in new workouts you wouldn’t normally try. For example, if you injured your shoulder, exercise your legs by walking. If you injured your ankle, exercise your upper body with dumbbells. Before engaging in any physical activity, seek medical advice and/or clearance from your regular physician.
Most sports related injuries involve damage to the joints. Low impact exercises are highly recommended when exercising with an injury. Swimming, biking and rowing are all great, low impact exercises that exert little to no stress on your joints. Swimming provides a full body workout without increasing stress on the injured area. Swimming targets your legs, core, arms and heart giving you a well-balanced workout. Biking is another great way to enjoy a long leisurely workout or a quick, interval hill sprint while maintaining low impact on the joints and sculpting your legs. Rowing provides an intense upper body workout while keeping the injury safe. Again, remember to consult with a physician before starting a new exercise routine.
Don’t let an injury discourage you from living a healthy lifestyle. I’ve seen far too many cases where an injury has led a person to a sedentary life. Injuries should never be taken lightly, but they also don’t need to have a negative impact on your healthy lifestyle. Take control of the injury before the injury takes control of you.