Let’s face it being physically active comes with the possibility of injury. But this shouldn’t stop you from being active as the risks associated with eliminating physical activity all together are much more sever. While accidents happen, many injuries are preventable. So whether you are an exercise beginner or a confident fitness fanatic you need to take the time or evaluate your routine, learn new techniques and prioritize your health and safety. If you don’t have a personal fitness expert that follows you around, these simple guidelines, adapted from Mary D. Nadelen, MA, ATC and the American College of Sports Medicine, may be helpful.
- Begin EVERY workout with a warm-up
Start slow and easy with general cardiovascular exercises like walking, jogging or biking. Your goal is to break a sweat, after 5 to 10 minutes focus on the muscles and movements you plan to use. This will prepare your muscles, tendons, and joints to move freely through the full range of motion. The more prepared the body is, the less likely it is to get injured.
- End EVERY workout with a cool-down
Immediately after your workout, spend 5 to 10 minutes on low-intensity cardiovascular activity followed by stretching. This simple practice not only reduces soreness but aids in recovery helping to prepare your body for the next workout.
- Start Slow
Don’t try to do too much too soon. Slowly increase the time you spend at each workout, your workout intensity, and the resistance (weight) you use. If equipment is involved make you know how to use it and that it is fitted correctly and meets safety standards.
- Listen to YOUR body
Don’t ignore those little aches and pains in your joints and muscles; they could lead to more serious injuries. Pain is the body’s way of telling you something is not right! If your body is tired or too sore from your previous workout, take a day off or work on other muscle groups. Switching activities also help challenge other parts of your body.
Rest is critical to allow the body to recover and a great way to prevent injuries. Plan at least 1 to 2 days of rest into your week.
- Diet and Hydration
A body with adequate fuel (food and water) will stay sharp and keep moving at the intensity you desire. This doesn’t mean you necessarily need to eat more, rather focus on a healthy balance – think MyPlate.
Following these simple guidelines is a great way to keep you injury-free and on track to meet your workout goals.
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