Exercise is great for you, and will almost always make you healthier — except, of course, when you injure yourself while doing it. Injury is the one great risk of working out — but, that doesn’t mean injuries are inevitable.
Far from it, since, in fact, most exercise-related injuries can be avoided if the right precautions are taken. Follow these seven rules and your chances of getting injured will be minimized.
1. Warm Up First
While fitness experts no longer believe that it is necessary (or even wise) to stretch before exercise, a light warm-up is still a good idea. A brief, moderately intense warm-up will get the blood flowing and prepare the muscles for exertion by heating them up. The chance of an injury will thereby be lowered. Walking, jogging in place, or doing some jumping jacks are all good options for a simple but effective warm-up.
2. Eat the Right Foods
Both pre- and post-workout nutrition is important to steering clear of injuries. During exercise, the body relies on energy reserves to maintain its activity. These energy reserves are in the form of glycogen, which can only be obtained from carbohydrates. Thus, a pre-workout meal should center around carbs, since running out of glycogen can result in injuries to the muscle. After exercise, a meal with lots of protein to promote recovery and healing is the right choice. Of course, consuming plenty of liquids before and during exercise is important as well.
3. Get the Right Gear
Depending on the specific exercise, certain clothing or equipment might be required for a safe workout. For example, it would be foolish to run in any old pair of sneakers, when only running shoes with proper support can minimize the risk of injury. Similarly, a cyclist must make sure their bicycle’s seat is set to the right height, since riding a bicycle that is not fitted to the body can lead to injuries. Cyclists must also wear helmets to protect themselves from head injuries.
4. Do the Exercise Correctly
Bad form is one of the leading causes of workout-related injuries. Performing an exercise the wrong way will almost always trigger an injury in the end. For example, a cyclist who rides their bicycle with too low of a cadence runs a high chance of getting a knee injury. Some modes of exercise, such as weightlifting, are especially easy to get wrong. Weightlifting is one of the most frequent causes of coccyx pain, a pain of the tailbone area. If you are already afflicted by tailbone pain, to recover fast you should get the best coccyx cushion you can afford. For workouts like weightlifting, seeking knowledgeable help and advice is practically a must to avoid injuries like these.
5. Don’t Go Too Hard
It’s important to know your limits. For example, older folks must recognize that their bodies are not as capable as they once were. A person who is starting out with a new workout, or who is unused to exercise entirely, should also go relatively slowly at first. Overexertion or doing too much too soon is one of the biggest causes of exercise-related injuries. Though it is also one of the most easily avoided.
6. Don’t tax Problem Areas
Most people have certain parts of their body that a more prone to injury. For example, an individual with a history of knee injuries is at a greater risk for further knee injuries going forward. Obviously, it would be foolish and needlessly dangerous for such a person to focus on exercises that heavily involve the knees – this tends to be one of the most common reasons for the spike in knee replacement surgery. Along the same lines, if a joint or muscle group is becoming tight, the smart move is to opt for workouts based around other areas for a while.
7. Rest and Recover
Exercise isn’t really about pushing the body to its absolute maximum at every opportunity. To avoid overuse injuries, time must be allowed for the body to recuperate and repair itself. Especially intense workouts should be followed up by a day or two of rest. Usually, the body itself will tell when it is ready to go again. Someone who still feels exhausted, or whose joints or muscles remain tired and strained, should hold off for a while longer. Another great way to recover from exercise is using a sauna, which has been proven to reduce inflammation and pain.
The prospect of getting injured through exercise may seem scary, but there’s no need for anyone to be fearful. The majority of exercise-related injuries could be avoided if the proper precautions were taken. Following the simple, practical rules described here is all a person need to do.