Getting into shape can come with its own set of consequences. It's common for us to become careless about injury and fail to prevent poor outcomes from occurring. This isn't necessarily our fault, as most of us are not taught exercise preventative measures.
It was in my middle school physical activity "elective" class that I learned proper exercising techniques, like how to do a correct sit-up, push-up, lunge, etc. If I had not opted to take an elective weight class in high school I would not have the basic knowledge for lifting weights. Unfortunately, a vast majority of people never learn proper exercise movements, which can put them at a disadvantage later in life. It can also lead to embarrassment, a lack of confidence, motivation and of course injury!
Whether you are a Crossfit enthusiast, body builder, wrestler, average lifter, or have never lifted weights or played a sport in your life, the points below can serve as good starting points to prepare you for your exercise routine of choice.
Common exercise-related injuries:
sprains- these are injuries toligaments, the tissues that connectbones to one another
muscle strains- injuries tomuscles ortendons, the tissue that connectmuscles to bones
tendinitis- inflammation of a tendon, mostly due to overuse of that tendon
ACL and meniscus tears of the knee- a rip in one of the ligaments whose job is to help stabilize the knee OR the cartilage that cushions the knee joint
rotator cuff tears- rips in thegroup of muscles and their tendons that hold the arm in the shoulder socket
Here are some researched based tips on how to prevent injuries:
1. Make sure that you have chosen an exercise routine that your doctor approves of especially if you have medical conditions such as arthritis or osteoporosis as these conditions can affect recovery or increase the chance of an injury.
For example, a 60 year old male will not recover from an injury the same way he would have in his 20s because of bone and muscle mass loss ad well as decreased agility and overall reaction time. Your doctor may go over modifications you should make in any given exercise program or routine so it best protects you and keeps you at a level that you can maintain overtime and which wont cause burnout.
2. Choose a workout plan that fits your fitness level:this can take planning time and resources
It might be best to first have a professionalevaluate your fitness level. They may look for cardiovascular endurance, upper body, lower body, and core strength such as pushing and pulling, flexibility level, agility, speed, power, balance, movement patterns, and even assess for any muscular imbalances/injuries. Along with a fitness test, a personal trainer might also do ashort health assessment to measure weight, body fat, visceral fat, blood pressure, resting heart rate, and other physical measurement along with other lifestyle questions.
It is extremely important to know where you stand physically, as a whole, before diving into an exercise regimen. This can help you set limits to begin with if you have stopped exercising for a while, as it can take time for your body to readjust to what you were once used to and is the safest way to prevent injury.
The goal is make sure you stay within your current physical capabilities andmaintain a steady level consistency while working your way up to bigger physical challenges.
Be mindful about choosing an exercise regimen
Choosing exercise program based on your body type (known as somatotype) was an idea developed by Dr. W.H. Sheldon in the early 1940s. The three body types are classified as: ectomorph (skinny), endomorph (big-boned), and mesomorph (medium-framed; strong and solid body with more muscle than fat).
It was originally a psychological concept that not only determined a person's body type but also personality type. It was later disregarded by the psychological community, although the idea that everyone is born with one of these three body types remains recognized in the fitness community.
The truth is, your body composition can improve with lifestyle changes including diet and exercise. Although there are structural and metabolic challenges associated with each body type this can help set up the foundation for choosing an exercise program, however, it does not necessarily determine your physical capability. Categorizing your body type is a guide a personal trainer might use to potentially understand a person's physiology and choose the right training methods for them.
Everyone has a different idea of what it means to "get into shape" but generally, people want to achieve a more mesomorphic body type, which can be possible for anyone regardless of your body type!
3. Learn proper technique and form
If you don’t know how to do an exercise correctly, it will increase your risk of injury. Consult a personal trainer, a physical therapist or a friend who knows what they are doing. There are even exercise Instagram accounts dedicated to showing proper form! Don’t just guess, make sure you have practiced the right form especially before adding weight.
4. Get Comfortable and breathe . . .
Some ways to get comfortable can range from choosing the right workout gear (breathable loose clothing, breathable socks, and cushioned sneakers with good arch support) to getting comfortable with your routine first before adding more complex exercises or increasing the intensity. Get to know your body and give it time to respond!
5. Why warm-up?
Simple. Lower risk for injury: improved blood flow to the muscles and increase in lubrication around the joints which can reduce stiffness and prepare the muscles for low and high impact exercise.
6. Try out different types of exercises or sports that are perhaps lighter than your original routine.
This will train other muscle groups of the body and give your body time to recuperate. This could be low-impact exercise like swimming, walking, biking, or yoga.
There is a difference between challenging yourself and pushing through actual pain. It should be uncomfortable, NOT painful. If it hurts, maybe you are not at the level you previously thought, so it is important to have patience with yourself. Being mindful of this will help you reach your exercise goals quicker rather than getting set back for weeks or months due to an injury! There is no magic recipe for preventing injuries altogether.
There is always risk on some level, but we can practice good technique, follow these guidelines, and learn from our mistakes as we progress.
Safe exercising this year!!
Joanna Gil, BS Nutrition