In my roles as a regular exerciser and fitness professional, I’ve seen many workout-related injuries.
The thing is, most people who exercise regularly will experience a workout-related injury at some point or other.
Many occur as a consequence of over-use; repeatedly doing the same form of exercise for too many days, weeks and months in a row. Others are due to hasty progression; adding too much weight too soon and compromising form in the process.
Because my preference is always to work on ‘prehab’ rather than ‘rehab’ ;), I give you;
Tips for preventing workout-related injuries
- tailor your warmup to fit the workout. Every workout requires a warmup. Five to seven minutes spent preparing the body for the workout to come. In addition to slowly elevating your heart rate, body temperature and general circulation, the warmup will also stimulate the release of synovial fluid in the joints; fluid which helps to improve range of motion. Ideally, warmup movements will mimic the exercises to be performed in the workout itself. For example, a kettlebell workout warmup might include body weight lunges, lateral lunges and squats to help open up the hips before the swinging starts.
- build a solid foundation. You can’t run before you learn to walk and expect to do it injury-free. Learning proper exercise form, without the addition of weights or external resistance, is essential for preventing workout-related injuries. Paying attention to which muscles are working during a particular exercise will help you build the mind-body awareness crucial to gaining strength and remaining capable of working out for many years to come. If you don’t know where to start, hire a personal trainer (or check out my at-home, beginner workout)
- err on the side of ‘too easy’. There’s far too much emphasis placed on ‘hard’, ‘balls to the wall’ style workouts. If you’re new to exercise in general, or to a specific form of movement, scale back. Forget the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ and bypass the workouts labelled ‘killer’ and ‘insane’. Remind yourself that you’re in it for the long haul and being side-lined by an injury induced by an ‘extreme’ workout will only undermine your health and fitness goals.
- pay attention to your body. Pain is the body’s way of telling you that you’ve injured yourself or are about to. Pay attention to how your body feels during and after exercise. Know the difference between muscular fatigue and muscular pain. The former is a signal to scale back, the latter a big red stop sign. Recognize that ability and performance vary from workout to workout and that not every gym session will be full of personal bests. Challenge yourself on days when you’re feeling strong and energetic, pull back on days when you’re not. Reducing your squat load or cutting a workout short are not signs of failure, but an indication that you care about your body enough to protect it from injury.
Struggling with a workout-related injury despite following the above tips? Check out the following posts!
- 5 tips for strength training after an injury
- Working out while injured: focus on what you CAN do
- Knee injury? 7 workout ideas to try while you recover
Share your workout-related injury below; misery loves company