Workout injuries can happen to anyone, regardless of your fitness or experience level. Even an everyday activity such as walking can cause an injury.
But you can significantly cut the risk of injury by following certain basic precautions.
People hurt themselves in all kinds of ways when they work out. Injuries include:
- muscle pulls and strains
- sprained ankles
- shoulder injuries
- knee injuries
- shin splints
- wrist sprain or dislocation
Preventing an injury when exercising can be very easy to accomplish. There are simple steps that can help keep you injury-free during your workout. The most important rule of thumb is to consult a physician before starting any kind of exercise program. Especially if you’re a woman over the age of 55 or a man over the age of 45.
The following are general guidelines for avoiding injuries during your workout.
Warmup and Cool Down
Always begin your workout with a warmup and end your workout with a cool-down period. A warmup helps your body get ready for exercise. It gradually increases your heart rate and loosens your muscles and joints.
Here are some ways to warm up effectively:
- ride an exercise bike
- jump rope
- jog in place for five to 10 minutes
A cool down after you work out is important to slowly bring your heart rate back to normal. Walking for five to 10 minutes after you work out is one way to cool down.
Stretching before you exercise is essential. It will help with increasing flexibility and reducing risk of muscle soreness and injury. It’s best to stretch after you warm up and cool down.
Ease Into It
When you begin an exercise routine or start a new workout program, start slowly. Gradually building the duration, intensity, and frequency of your workouts will allow you acclimate to the program and get used to performing the exercises. Don’t push yourself too hard. As your fitness abilities increase, you will be able to do more and really challenge yourself.
Repeating the same muscle movements frequently can lead to overuse, allowing the onset of injuries such as shin splints and tendonitis, commonly caused by repetitive use of the muscles. Some ways to vary your workouts include working out different muscle groups each day and switching up the types of exercises to continue shocking your body.
Know Your Trouble Spots
Be aware of your problem areas, meaning those that are more prone to injuries. But, don’t do exercises that actually cause you pain. And be sure to start out lightly.
Listen To Your Body
The “no pain, no gain” philosophy can set you up for an injury. If you feel pain, you may be injured. Stop your workout and rest for a day or two. Your body will tell you when you can workout again.
Fuel Your Body
Eating a balanced, healthy diet and drinking plenty of water before, during, and after you work out will ensure optimal performance.
- 8 ounces about 20 to 30 minutes before working out.
- 8 ounces every 10 to 20 minutes during your workout.
- 16 ounces when your workout is done.
Eat a small meal or snack every two to three hours to keep a steady source of fuel for your body. After your workout, eat a healthy carb and protein snack to replenish your energy stores. Protein shakes are a quick protein resource after you workout and are typically easier to get down immediately following your workout.
See A Trainer
Before starting a weight-lifting or exercise routine, meet with a trainer. He or she can show you how to work out correctly and efficiently. The trainer will help you create a safe and realistic exercise program that works for you.
Wear the proper gear for your workout. If you are a runner, wear a good pair of running shoes that fit properly. If you are a biker, always wear a helmet.
Be Sure to Rest
Take one to two days off a week to rest. Rest days give your body a chance to recover between workouts, helping to prevent injuries.
Treating Workout Injuries
Injuries can happen, no matter how careful you are. If you develop a workout injury, follow the RICE method to keep your injury from getting worse.
R: rest the injury
I: ice the injury to lessen swelling, bleeding, and inflammation
C: apply a compression bandage to minimize swelling
E: elevate the injury to reduce swelling
Don’t forget, ibuprofen can be taken to ease pain and inflammation from the injury.
Most workout injuries will heal on their own in four weeks or less. If the injury has not improved within a week, or if it gets worse, see your doctor . And always use common sense. If you’re concerned about the injury, it’s best to seek medical advice.
Until you are fully healed, avoid doing the activity that triggered the injury. Also avoid any activity that puts strain on the injured area.
You can still be active as long as you don’t stress the injury. Staying active may help you heal quicker than if you take to the couch. Try a new workout while your injury heals. For example, if you sprain your ankle, exercise your arms instead. If you hurt your shoulder, work out your legs by walking.
After you have fully recovered from your injury, pain-free for more than a week, start back slowly. Don’t try to work out with the same fervor you had before your injury. You will need to rebuild your muscle strength and endurance. It may take three weeks of regular exercise to regain your pre-injury fitness level. If you push too hard and too fast, you may injure yourself again.
Web MD (http://www.webmd.com)