Workout injuries can happen to anyone, no matter their level of skill. The most common workout injuries include: muscle strain, joint hyperextension, shin splints, tendon damage, dislocation, and bone fractures. You’ll never realize how often you use a specific part of your body until you injure it! Listed below are some helpful, simple tips to keep in mind to preemptively prevent pain in the future.
Stretching before any kind of physical activity is crucial, be it sprinting or gardening. For many, stretching is given less thought and practice as opposed to the ‘meat’ of your workout. For your future health, stretching presents a myriad of benefits. Not only will it feel relaxing and rejuvenating, stretching increases your future athletic capabilities. Once you become a regular stretcher, you will be helping build your body awareness or proprioception. Remember to stretch right before the warm-up and right after the cool-down. A post-workout stretch will allow you to slow down, catch your breath and readjust to normal movement.
Every workout should start off with a warm-up period to allow a slow transition into top speed. Much like a car, it is not beneficial to your engine if you floor it upon ignition. Let your motor run for a bit with a warm up. It will get your blood flowing to the key parts of your body being used in the specific exercise. Once warm, your muscles will react better to shock and movement, reducing your risk for injury.
3. Vary Your Workouts
Variety is the spice of life, so try doing a whole range of different exercises. I’ve found that if I vary my types of physical activity, it keeps me interested longer and motivates me more than just sticking with the same old workout plan. On top of this, cross training puts less stress on certain parts of your body. Try adding some variation with swimming, cycling, rock climbing, and hiking.
4. Know Your Body
Recently I took a hiking trip to a local national park, and three years ago I recall having a knee injury that hasn’t flared up since. At the time I bought a knee brace to use for runs or long walks, and thankfully I had the foresight to bring it, just in case (thanks Boyscouts). Halfway through the weekend, lo and behold, my knee was a complete mess. The point here is that it is important to know yourself, know your body and its capabilities. Don’t completely avoid working out a specific area, just be mindful of the intensity and amount of use.
5. Cool Down
Contrary to your busy schedule, cooling down is very important for your heart and blood flow. If you skip a cool down you may experience dizziness; and due to quickly slowed blood circulation, you muscles will not get the nutrients they need. Cooling down also prevents soreness by slowly releasing the lactic acid built up in your muscle tissue. Cooling down is as easy as slowing your pace in whatever exercise you’re doing. If lifting weights, try simply walking for a few minutes.
David Hook is a writer and recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. He loves to blog about personal injury prevention on behalf of Loewy Law Firm in Austin, Tx.