Jan 19 2012

8 Tips To Avoid Injuries

This week I was left out of action temporarily after sustaining an injury during class. There was no specific trauma or moment that I knew I had injured myself, it came about gradually during the third class of the day. Sport InjuryAfterwards I pondered how this happened and what, if anything I could have done to prevent it.

In my case I believe it was a case of doing too much on an un-rested body, (number 5 below) coupled with breaking in a new pair of trainers that altered my gait. How about you? What can YOU do to help avoid injuries?

Here are 8 tips you can follow to help you stay in good form:

1 – Always warm up adequately
A warm up is exercise that prepares your body by increasing the body’s core temperature, raising the heart rate, lubricating the joints, (stimulating production of synovial fluids) and mentally prepares you for the workout ahead. Warm ups should last from 5 – 10 minutes and ideally rehearse the movements that you will be performing in the main portion of your session, e.g. walking/slow jogging to prepare for a run.

2 – Use appropriate gear

Wear clothes that allow your body to move to perform the exercise comfortably. Make sure clothes fit properly and aren’t for example trailing on the floor as you might slip on very long trouser legs. Likewise, if you’re using equipment or props you want to be sure you don’t have any tassles or other adornments dangling from your body that could get caught up in machinery leading to an accident.

What you wear on your feet is one of the most important aspects to take into consideration. Runners will want shoes designed for the purpose, likewise those doing Zumba or dance classes will want to avoid running shoes as they’re simply too “spongy”, have too much “grip” which will make pivoting very difficult and dangerous for the knees and have little lateral support which you’ll need for all those side-to-side movements. With other sports such as cycling, boxing and hockey you’ll also need to get geared up with all the relevant protective “armour” to protect yourself from crashes, bashes and high speed missiles flying through the air.

3 – Hydrate and fuel sufficiently

If you’re one of those people that go to the gym straight from work, then the chances are you haven’t eaten anything since lunch then the likelihood is that your workout will be less efficient and potentially dangerous. If the body is lacking in food and water, we become tired and more prone to injury. Dehydration can lead to muscle cramps that stop you mid-stride, dizzyness that could throw your balance off or just general weakness that can result in less-focussed technique that end in injury. Likewise, failure to replenish the body’s fuel after workouts means it will be unable to recover properly from training, which will lead to illness or injury.

4 – Get professional advice on technique and form

If you’re trying something for the first time, have a trained professional tutor you on correct execution. Maybe you’re in the gym and you’re trying out a resistance machine for the first time, it’s important to get instruction on how to use it properly to avoid accidents and injuries. Perhaps you’re having trouble with a particular dance move, ask your instructor to spend some time with you before the class to run over the technique with you.

5 – Rest

Rest is one of the most neglected aspects of a training programme. Rest is absolutely essential to allow your body time to rebuild those micro-tears in the muscles, and to create new fibers where required. Taking a day off is seen as weakness by some but if you skip it, the damage done to the body will consider to snowball leaving you more susceptible to injury or illness. Ideally we should allow at least one complete day of rest each week. For individual muscle groups, say you’ve had a hard session on the biceps one day, then you should give them the next day off and work another muscle group. If you’ve had a particularly major session, such as a competition or special event, allow a few days off to recover from the excessive demands you have made of your body.

6 – Listen to your body

No pain, no gain is often banded about however it’s important to remember that pain is our body’s way of saying that something is wrong. Ask yourself if what you’re feeling is simply the “burn” after a intense bout of lunges that will pass after a shake and a few minutes’ break or whether this feels like a warning. Never push through just for the sake of completing your workout, as the time you might have lost today could be significantly extended when you find yourself laid up with a chronic injury. The same applies for illness. A day or two away from the gym will not kill you! If you’re ill, stop. Go and get better. Come back when you’re fighting fit. Your workout will be better, you’ll get better more quickly and you won’t infect your friends.

7 – Cross train

What do we mean by cross train? Mix up your routine with different types of exercise. Not only will you avoid repetitive stress injuries from performing the same exercises day in day out, but you’ll also achieve a higher level of fitness and help combat boredom. Combine cardiovascular exercise with strength/resistance training and flexibility work and you’ll get great all-over body fitness.

8 – Cool down and stretch

The warm up prepares your body for the workout, the cool down is used to return your body to the pre-workout state. Take at least 5 – 10 minutes to bring the heart rate down with gentle exercises which in turn helps flush waste products from the system such as lactic acid, prevents blood pooling and helps bring fresh, nutrient blood to those tired muscles aiding them to start recovering and repairing straight away. Stretching should also follow which puts length back into muscles which may have shortened during the workout. Finally, refuel and rest!

Yes, I will be trying to listen to my own advice, but you know sometimes the instructors are the worst offenders, especially as far as rest is concerned!

Facebook Comments:

Permanent link to this article: http://www.warwickshirefitness.com/2012/01/19/8-tips-to-avoid-injuries/