Many of us who work out regularly or not-so-regularly (no judgments here) do so for the sake of our physical and mental wellbeing. We want to be healthy and energetic, we want our bodies to function flexibly and with endurance, and we want to maintain these results for as long as possible.
But exercise is not always easy on your body. While some may say that’s the whole point of a rigorous workout routine, pushing your body beyond its current capabilities or neglecting to properly care for it before and after exercising may lead to injuries that compromise your mobility, comfort, and eventually your lifestyle. This is because exercise injuries are often accompanied by pain that only worsens over time—pain in your joints, limbs, muscles, and various regions of your body that prevent you from enjoying all of your usual activities including sitting down, lying on your back, and bending over.
Thankfully, you can prevent injuries by taking simple steps that will be well worth the time you put in. Whether you’re a gym rat or not, incorporating these strategies into your exercise routine will help you not only get fit safely but, in some cases, maximize your results.
Warm Up the Right Way
While warming up before exercising seems like a no-brainer, many of us are eager to jump into the good stuff and, as a result, rush through or skip this crucial step altogether. However, it’s important to remember that your body is “cold” when it first starts moving: This means that your blood isn’t actively circulating, your heart rate is at rest, and your muscles are neither activated nor pliable, which makes them prone to tearing.
Warming up your body anywhere between 3 to 10 minutes readies it for all the activities you’re going to perform during your main workout. Great and easy starting points can be cycling on a stationary bike, running and walking in place, or even performing low-impact versions of the exercises you were already planning to do, such as unweighted squats, lunges, or leg lifts. Why you want to avoid jumping or bouncing too much, these types of dynamic and active movements have been found to prevent injuries more than slow, lengthy stretches on the mat.
Know Thy Stretches
Speaking of stretches, this activity doesn’t automatically translate into benefits for your body.
While you’re recommended to stretch at least twice a week, it may be better to reserve it for after your workout since intensely stretching cold muscles can lead to nasty injuries that will prevent you from even getting started. If you are going to stretch as a part of your warm-up, avoid long holds that go past 30 seconds and continue moving your body energetically.
Maintain a Consistent but Diverse Workout Program
We’ve all heard of occupational injuries, like carpal tunnel, as well as sports injuries like tennis elbow and golfer’s elbow. These conditions often occur because individuals repeat the same or similar movements over and over again, thus using and wearing down the same joints, muscles, and bones.
This is why it’s important to try your hand at a variety of different exercises that target specific areas of your body while allowing others to recover and rest. Cross-training not only helps you achieve extensive muscle activation and proportionate results across your entire body but also stops you from getting overconfident in your workouts, which is one of the key contributors to exercise injuries.
Why? Because when we repeat the same routine day in and day out, we tend to let our minds wander while we exercise on auto-pilot or we dupe ourselves into thinking that we can take on more weight than we’re actually capable of withstanding, both of which can be dangerous.
In the same lieu, avoid getting overzealous as a weekend warrior and cramming your necessary exercise into a Saturday. While it’s perfectly fine to save particularly intense workouts for certain days of the week, you can better avoid injuries if you aim to move your body for at least 30 minutes a day. This can certainly be a workout routine but also something as moderate and simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood, hiking up the stairs instead of riding the elevator, playing with your kids, or bathing your very large dog or your very grumpy cat. Anything that gets your heart pumping!
Receive Educated Help from Professionals
Many exercise injuries result from folks tackling brand new activities or workout machines without understanding proper form. While there’s a wealth of information available online to help you get started on a particular exercise, it’s difficult to know if you’re doing something correctly without someone observing your movements and offering you advice that’s tailored to your body and abilities.
In such cases, you may consider investing in a certified personal trainer or coach to help you learn proper techniques that will help you avoid injuries and take care of the ones you already have. Now, this sort of assistance isn’t required forever: Once you’re educated about which exercises work with your body, how to do them correctly, and how to up their intensity safely, you can move forward on your own.
The point is to be taught how to crawl before you run!
A Reliable Orthopaedics Team for Injuries You Can’t Prevent
While incorporating these strategies can help you avoid injuries and pain, such incidents are sometimes an unavoidable part of life. Having a competent, attentive, and dependable orthopaedic team on your side means the difference between a speedy, sustainable recovery and prolonged injury that has lasting repercussions.
From our two locations in Douglas and Gillette, Thunder Basin Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine has served clients with prestigious care, compassionate service, and cutting-edge surgical technologies for years. We specialize in treating various orthopaedic conditions including sports injuries, fractures and other traumatic injuries, degenerative joint disease, sprains, strains, tears, and more. Where possible, we also employ minimally invasive surgical techniques that produce the best outcomes while minimizing your downtime.
If you’re currently experiencing pain or beginning to feel discomfort during your workout or even your daily routine, request an appointment today!