Workout injuries are very common, even among professional athletes and experienced resistance trainees. When you push your body to its limits (and sometimes beyond), the risk of injury is much higher. It’s simply a part of the fitness life!
That being said, there are certain measures you can take to REDUCE your risk of injuries. Following the few simple steps below will do wonders to help you avoid the most common exercise-related injuries and stay safe while you lift, run, cycle, or train:
Stretch Before and After – The time you spend stretching is never wasted! A pre-workout stretching session will help to limber up your joints, muscles, and connective tissue, reducing the risk of ligament or tendon injuries or torn muscles. Stretching after the workout will also help to enhance joint mobility, encouraging a better range of motion. The more you can move, the lower your risk of injuries when you squat, lunge, jump, run, or lift.
Do a Warm-Up Set – Before you get to the heavy lifting, always throw in one warm-up set. This is a light set, one that uses 50% of your normal weight. It will get your muscles warm, loosen up your joints, and get the blood flowing to the muscles you’re about to use. Doing a warm-up set will drastically reduce your risk of strained muscles or connective tissue during heavier and higher-intensity lifts.
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Improve Your Form – Form is key when you run, lift weights, cycle, train on the elliptical, play sports, or do just about anything that involves movement. With the proper posture, your spine and joints are properly aligned, with the muscles to protect them. When you deviate from the proper posture, your joints and spine can shift out of place, leading to knee, back, hip, ankle, and shoulder injuries.
Make it a priority to learn the proper form for every workout you do. Tighten up your running posture to reduce the strain on your knees and lower back. Improve your Squat and Deadlift form to reduce lower back strains and improve hip mobility. The more you work on your posture, the more effective your training!
Wear a Weight Belt – This is a bit of a controversial topic. Some science indicates that using supports like knee braces or weight belts make your muscles “lazy” and prevent efficient strengthening. On the flip side, they do offer support for your joints and can help to reduce injuries.
A weight belt is something many lifters use when performing heavy lifts like Deadlifts and Squats. Using a weight belt will give you something to push against (with your core muscles) when you lift heavy. Engaging your core muscles will increase spinal stability, which will reduce your risk of injury. Thanks to the support and resistance, it’s a good idea to use a weight belt for heavier lifts that could lead to lower back injuries.
Train Your Weak Areas – Everyone has that one muscle or muscle group that just isn’t up to par with the others. Perhaps you’ve skipped leg day a few too many times, or your posterior deltoids (back of your shoulder muscles) aren’t as strong as your chest and anterior deltoids (front of your shoulder muscles). Muscular deficiencies can lead to improper form and posture, which can increase your risk of joint injury. Your joints and bones often have to compensate if your muscles aren’t strong enough or able to carry the weight.
If you have “weak areas”, spend extra time training them. Throw a few extra sets into each workout, and give that muscle the attention it deserves until it’s as strong as the rest of your body.
Cross Train – If you spend all of your time lifting weights, you’re going to have ONE very specific type of strength (for lifting heavy objects). But what are you going to do if you have to run or your daily activities require muscular endurance rather than raw power?
Instead of focusing everything on just one type of workout, make sure to throw in a bit of variety every week. For example, instead of lifting weights 5 days a week, lift for 3 days and mix in bodyweight training and HIIT training the other days. Or, try a bit of mobility and agility training to combat stiffness and reduced flexibility. The more variety you have in your workout, the better!
A few simple tips, but they can do wonders to help you avoid the most common exercise-related injuries.
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