Exercise Safely & Prevent Injury. How to Reduce Your Risks When Training
Injury is too often a part of starting a new exercise regimen. I say too often because how to exercise safely and prevent injury is pretty well established. The risk of getting hurt plays a big role in people avoiding exercise and can badly interrupt your training progress. Injury is not something you should be scared of once you understand the risks and preventions.
You might be full of enthusiasm, but before you launch into any new form of exercise, you need to cool your jets. Slow it down and make changes gradually. Substantial changes in exercise training load or intensity, or attempting complex exercises without pre-conditioning is a surefire way to get injured.
You need to know the limitations to your movement, how to overcome them, and proper technique. Gyms are full of people butchering their exercises, don’t be one of them. There is a proper technique for every exercise, even machine-based weight training.
Jumping, running, and ballistic or power training puts a lot of explosive pressure on body tissue. For this reason, before including these movements into your workout program, you need to be conditioned. Building up muscle, tendon, ligament, and bone strength takes years. It also takes time to strengthen supportive musculature and lay down the cognitive foundations required for high force movements.
WHAT IF YOU ARE INJURED?
If I injure myself, I keep moving to improve or at least maintain strength and blood flow around the site of the injury. I don’t want to make the injury worse or the recovery more protracted than it needs to be. For this reason, I always seek advice from my physiotherapist.
Back injury is one of the most common forms of injury. Knowing how to move correctly during any situation to protect your back is vital to avoid injury. Many other factors can contribute to injury. The following is a list of possible risks and preventions.
POSSIBLE RISKS AND PREVENTIONS
RISK: Injuries commonly occur when there is a substantial change in training load or intensity.
PREVENTION: Patiently ease into new exercises and programs making gradual changes.
RISK: Extreme exercise programs leading to overuse, overtraining, overreach, degraded technique, or rhabdomyolysis.
PREVENTION: Even though they have become popular, I am cautious of extreme exercise programs that have intense exercises performed with short rest periods. Make sure you are well hydrated and have adequate rest between sets of exercises. Be cautious of intense training in hot temperatures.
RISK: Poor form or technique.
PREVENTION: Develop proper technique before increasing load and cease exercising when fatigue degrades technique.
PREVENTION: Choose an appropriate weight loading for your body, stage, and ability to maintain proper technique. Don’t let your ego take control.
RISK: No warm-up or cool-down.
PREVENTION: Warm-up and cool-down properly.
RISK: Poor flexibility and mobility.
PREVENTION: Stretch to improve flexibility, mobility, and circulation. Follow a quality training program that factors in muscle balance. Take exercises through their full range of motion and keep partial reps to a minimum.
RISK: Muscle group imbalance or weakness. A training program without balance in the muscle groups it trains or having postural problems or weaknesses can contribute to injury.
PREVENTION: Be assessed for a training program that caters to your postural problems, weaknesses, and injuries. Refer to choosing a coach or personal trainer.
PREVENTION: Get adequate recovery and reduce the volume or frequency of your training. Vary exercises to mix up the use of joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments.
RISK: Underuse combined with sudden high usage such as the ‘weekend warrior.’
PREVENTION: Do exercise throughout the week and consider reducing the volume and intensity of your weekend exercise.
RISK: Poorly fitting or poor quality equipment.
PREVENTION: Get the right equipment and learn how to use it properly, i.e., shoes, bike, weight plates, racks, etc.
RISK: Poorly fitted or poor quality shoes can set up undesirable stress on your joints such as knees and ankles.
PREVENTION: Find a good shoe store that specializes in fitting shoes to suit your gait. Many serious weight lifters prefer different running shoes to weight training shoes.
RISK: Problematic foot structures such as flat foot can set up poor body mechanics that have flow-on effects up your body.
PREVENTION: If you build strength appropriately, you should improve your foot structure, therefore, reducing the likelihood that you will require support such as orthotics.
RISK: Poor food and nutrition.
PREVENTION: You require quality macronutrients, vitamins, and minerals through nutrition to keep your body performing at its best.
RISK: Age consideration.
PREVENTION: Due to loss in strength and an increased risk of health issues as you age, consideration of what you do becomes more important.
RISK: Inappropriate exercise for your mechanical abilities.
PREVENTION: Knowing your mechanical susceptibilities.
RISK: High risk sports, i.e., those that incorporate jumping, twisting, or running.
PREVENTION: There is a saying in the athletic community; “You need to get fit to run, not run to get fit.” A well-crafted training program that includes strength and power training will significantly reduce your risk of injury.
RISK: Low temperature.
PREVENTION: Make sure you are adequately dressed in cold weather or find an indoor activity. Warm-up properly.
RISK: Being overweight.
PREVENTION: Carrying extra weight will put more pressure on your body, particularly joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Be mindful of this when doing exercises, especially explosive exercises such as jumping (burpees) and sprinting.
RISK: Other physical or medical issues.
PREVENTION: Seek health care advice from a relevant qualified professional.