While exercise can make you stronger, fitter and healthier, there are also some risks associated with working out, such as pulled muscles. Injuries can also be chronic, building up over time, possibly because of bad technique or poor training practices. Being injured may mean you have to alter your exercise routine or it could stop you from exercising altogether.
Wear the Right Shoes
Designed to protect and support your feet, sports shoes are the first line of defense between you and the ground. Always wear a shoe that is right for your chosen activity. A well-cushioned running shoe will protect your foot from impact injuries while a supportive gym shoe will increase your foot and ankle stability and a studded soccer boot will give you extra traction. The right shoe can significantly reduce your risk of injury.
Always Warm Up
Warming up involves performing some light cardio and stretching exercises to prepare your body for working out. Studies by Per Renstrom Ph.D, MD, and published in his book, “Sports Injuries: Their Prevention and Treatment, Third Edition,” showed that a few minutes spent warming up may reduce your chances of injury and prepares the mind for exercise. Warming up raises your body temperature, increases blood flow to your muscles and mobilizes your joints.
Make Progress Slowly
Doing too much exercise too soon can cause you to develop injuries. Your body adapts to the exercises you perform, but this takes time. Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your workouts to allow your body to adapt to the challenges of your workout.
Strengthen your Core
Your core consists of the muscles of your abdomen and lower back and is responsible for supporting your spine. According to Stuart McGill in his book “Low Back Disorders,” a strong core will protect your back from injury by keeping your spine in good alignment. The ligaments and discs of your spine can be injured if they are put under too much stress, so a strong core is vital.
Keep a Neutral Spine
Your spine has a number is distinct curves you need to preserve during exercise. Rounding your back exposes your spine to injury. Maintaining a neutral spine means making sure that your spinal curves remain in place, especially when leaning forward or lifting weights from the ground. Maintain your lower back curve to minimize your risk of back injury.
Don’t Strength Train Alone
Training with free weights can be dangerous if the weight falls because of injury or fatigue. To avoid being struck or pinned by a weight, always make sure you have a spotter or training partner. This is especially important if you are performing exercises such as the bench press, squat or shoulder press.
Get Fit for Sport
Weekend warriors can suffer injuries because they are sedentary the rest of the week. Exercise during the week to prepare your body for the demands of your weekend game. As a rule, you should get fit for sport and not use sport to get fit, as the element of competition can make you work harder than you intended to.
Flexible muscles are less likely to suffer injury. This is especially true during activities that use a large range of movement, like running or kicking. As you age, your muscles can become shorter, so stretching is an important part of exercise. Always stretch after exercise to reduce adaptive shortening and enhance your flexibility.
Get a Massage
Sometimes, your muscles can develop adhesions or knots which can develop into injuries. Massage therapists are trained to recognize adhesions and can break them down so your muscles can function properly. Massage is one of the oldest forms of therapy and can enhance the health of your muscles.
About this Author
Patrick Dale is an experienced writer who has written for a plethora of international publications. Also a lecturer and trainer of trainers, he is a major contributor for Ultra-FIT magazine and has been involved in fitness for 22 years. Other than a five-year service in the Royal Marines, Dale has always worked in health and fitness and never intends leaving.