Exercise caters to the individual. You might want to tone up for summer weather, while someone else wants to prepare for a grueling triathlon. Someone else might be getting back in high gear after a rotator cuff injury. In all these cases, physical fitness is the goal: building muscle, boosting energy, pushing off stress, and improving mental health.
During a workout, the last thing you want is to cause an injury that puts you back at the starting line. But it can happen. The good news is that you can avoid workout injuries if you follow a few best practices. Here are ten tips for how you can reduce your chances of getting injured during workouts.
START WITH A WARM-UP
Before you start any workout, regardless of intensity, you want to warm up. Not only do warm-ups get your blood moving and heart primed, but they fire up your muscles and joints to prepare them for the work ahead.
Warm-ups don’t need to be complicated. Consider some of these options:
- Jumping jacks
- Ankle circles
- Butt kicks
- Jogging in place
- Marching in place
- Standing side bends
- Leg raises
- No-jump rope
- Side shuffle
Aim for 5 to 10 minutes of warm-ups before you jump into your workout.
CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT
Another way to reduce injury risks is to make sure your equipment is safe and in proper working condition. Look over your equipment to see if it has any cracks or tears. For powered equipment, check the wires for fraying or breaks and any belts for rips.
You should also make sure cords for equipment like treadmills and ellipticals are safely tucked away so they don’t become a tripping hazard.
GET THE RIGHT GEAR
You want to wear the right gear for the type of exercise you’re doing. For example, what shoes will you wear? Shoes are one of the most essential clothing items because they help keep your body aligned and balanced.
Compression clothing can be beneficial as well, especially shorts. According to a study published in Sports Medicine, compression shorts can reduce muscle fatigue and inflammation and help you lean into jumps more efficiently.
If you’re doing a lot of intense weightlifting, don’t forget to protect your wrists. Wrist wraps can give your wrists ample support to avoid sprain injuries.
USE PROPER FORM
Moving through your routine without good form is another common cause of workout injury. Exercises target specific muscles, and when you don’t use proper form, you risk injuring muscles forced to bear too much weight.
If you’re unsure of your techniques or how to move through a routine to target the right muscles, get in touch with a personal trainer or other fitness professional. They can walk you through the right moves.
Next, you want to tailor your routine to your needs and abilities. For example, got a bum knee right now? Skip the high-intensity cardio and opt for an elliptical or rowing session. You want to build up strength, but you don’t want to dive into exercises that will only cause inflammation or pain.
When you begin your workout, you might be tempted to rush through the sequences to get those endorphins pumping. Feeling that natural high can spur you on to exercise even more, but it can backfire if you do too much.
You want to pace yourself and not compress your routine into a shorter period. Increase speed and intensity as you go along, and stop every once in a while to test your rate of perceived exertion (RTE).
Variation is the name of the game. You can put a lot of strain on muscles if you put them to work too often. You can also get injuries from repetitive movements. Instead, vary your workout to target different muscles on different days. You could follow a routine like the following:
You could also follow a routine that creates a full-body workout, targeting various muscles in turn. Incorporate strength training and cardio into your workout and finish with flexibility exercises. Consider a routine that moves through exercises like squats, lunges, burpees, planks, loaded carries, sit-ups, pull-ups, jumps, and stretches.
STAY IN-TUNE WITH YOUR BODY
You want to work your muscles, not overwork them. If you feel sudden pain, cramping, or popping, listen to your body and back off that movement. Either take a break or shift to another exercise to reduce the intensity and target another muscle group. Pushing yourself beyond your body’s threshold won’t help you stay fit. Instead, you’re more likely to cause injury.
STAY FUELED AND HYDRATED
Healthy fuel keeps you energized and focused, so you don’t slip out of form or work a muscle too hard. When you’re working out, you need to keep up your fluid intake to help your muscles, heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature.
According to the American Council on Exercise, you want to hydrate before, during, and after your workout. Aim for about 7 to 10 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes during your workout, depending on the intensity.
Along with water, your body needs a healthy diet rich in nutrients. Get in plenty of healthy carbs and proteins after your workout to replenish glycogen stores and help muscles heal.
TAKE A REST DAY
Finally, don’t be afraid to take a break. Taking a rest day can help avoid injury and give your muscles a chance to heal and grow. You don’t need to sit around the house, though. Try active recovery, where you engage in low-intensity activities like walking, yoga, cycling, gardening, yard work, home repair, or household tasks. Slow movements are better than no movements; they keep your blood moving so your muscles feel less fatigued.
Now that you know the best ways to avoid injury during workouts, you’re ready to dive in with a new routine. What’ll it be? For expert advice on fitness equipment and accessories to add to your home workout, contact us at G&G Fitness Equipment today. We’re ready to help you elevate your fitness goals.