Nothing can disrupt your workout routine quite like an injury. Even the most dedicated athletes are forced to take time off when they’re hurt, losing valuable time in their training. While it’s impossible to protect yourself against all injuries, there are precautions you can take to stay healthy.
To keep yourself on track with your fitness, implement these five easy strategies to help prevent injuries.
1. Warm up well
What you do before you exercise can be just as important as what you do during. Gently warm up your muscles before you work out with a brief jog or a few minutes on the elliptical machine. You might also throw in some easy stretching. While stretching doesn’t necessarily prevent injuries, performing stretches in general does increase the flexibility of your muscles, making them less prone to injuries.
2. Use correct form
Performing exercises incorrectly is a quick way to cause an injury. In fact, Muscle and Fitness magazine reported that the most common injuries in weight training are related to using improper form. Your limbs are only supposed to move in certain ways, so when you make an unnatural movement, especially if there’s weight or pressure involved from lifting or impact activities, you run the risk of damaging muscles, tendons, ligaments or even bones. When taking up a new activity, consider starting with an instructor who can help monitor your form when you’re starting out. Working out with a partner can also be helpful, as it’s often easier for someone else to notice if you’re doing something incorrectly. If possible, always lift weights in front of a mirror to watch your form.
3. Strengthen weak muscles
If your workouts consist primarily of a single form of cardio exercise like biking or running, you could end up with certain muscles that are significantly stronger than others. According to Prevention magazine, this imbalance can lead to injuries. The magazine recommended dedicating at least two workouts a week to strengthening muscles that aren’t targeted by your cardio workouts to create better balance in your body.
4. Avoid overuse
While it’s important to exercise regularly to meet your fitness goals, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing when it comes to working out. According to the Mayo Clinic, overuse injuries can happen to any kind of muscle or joint when you take on too much physical activity too quickly. Make sure that you pace yourself when starting a new activity. For example, if you’re a first-time runner, don’t run a marathon on your very first day. Use your favorite BABY-G watch to time yourself for 10 to 15 minutes instead. Then add one to two minutes to every run, monitoring the time with your digital watch.
5. Talk to a doctor
An important way to avoid serious injuries is to talk to your doctor before something goes wrong. If you experience regular mild pain or discomfort in your knees, for example, consult with a medical professional before the problem becomes worse. Your physician will likely be able to figure out what the problem is and tell you the best way to address it. Even chronic problems can be hurt by some exercises and aided by others. A certain amount of discomfort is to be expected when you work out, but don’t ignore serious or reoccurring pain. It could end up turning into an injury that forces you to take time off from working out completely.
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