Working out is awesome, and really something you should do regularly. The reality is, however, when doing physical exercise, you may very well experience injury or injuries. In fact, results from a sudy published in the New York Times, found that from 1990 to 2007, nearly a million Americans wound up in emergency rooms with weight-training injuries, with annual injuries increasing more than 48 percent during that time.
But it isn’t just dropping a barbell on your foot, or being trapped under a bench press bar that can cause workout related injuries. Many injuries are as a result of incidents related to the exercises themselves, and not the equipment. Some of the most common include:
- Rotator cuff injury
- Sprained ankle
- Groin strain
- Plantar fasciitis
- Shin splints
- Wrist sprain or dislocation
- Lower back pain
While the injuries listed are among the most common, there are plenty more where they came from, simply because there is a wide range of physical activities and people respond differently to those activities.
That being said, there are some things that you can do to avoid many of these injuries so you can continue exercising. Here are some og those things:
Ease into it. When you begin an exercise routine or start a new workout program, start slowly. Then gradually build up the intensity, duration, and frequency.
Don’t push yourself too hard. As your fitness abilities increase, you will be able to challenge yourself more.
1. Allow yourself adequate warm-up and cool-down time
Warming up before exercising allows your heart rate to gradually increase rather than working hard right out of the gate. Doing so is not only good for your heart health, but it also loosens your muscles and joints to decrease the chances of muscle strains and strain on your joints.
Likewise, when you cool down rather than abruptly ending your workout, it gradually brings your heart rate down and cooling your body temperature. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the benefits extend to muscles as doing so will return muscles to their optimal length-tension relationships, in turn preventing venous pooling of blood in the lower extremities.
Stretching has received some conflicting press recently with many experts saying that stretching doesn’t play a role in preventing injury. However, research has found that stretching may play a part in preventing injury by improving balance.
In fact, A recent study tested 42 college students to see if stretching would impact how long they could stay on a stabilometer, which is a tool used to test balance. The students who stretched for 30 minutes before were able to balance longer than those who sat before they beginning the test. Researchers concluded that stretching could help with fine-muscle coordination, thus decreasing the likelihood of injury.
When you use the same muscles and joints every day in the very same form of exercise, this could lead to overuse injuries like shin splints and tendonitis. To avoid such injuries, it may be wise to cross-train. This means that if you’re a runner, incorporate some weight training or Yoga. If you lift weights, spend some time hiking or going to the pool.
Who knows, you may find you quite like switching it up a bit.
4. Focus on healthy eating
Staying injury free is not only about focusing on exercise related things. What you eat could very well be an important part of keeping you free from physical pain.
For instance, calcium can help strengthen and maintain healthy bones. There’s vitamin A that’s used to make new skin and other tissues that are vital to the healing process. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that produces collagen, which is essentially an adhesive-like protein in your bones, connective tissues and blood vessels. It’s pretty much the glue that keeps you together. Its When you’re injured, collagen is the substance that glues the injured area back together.
There are so many other nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, so don’t skimp on the healthy stuff if you want to stay healthy.
5. Keep a journal
This one may sound silly, but trust us. For many people when they are injured, it is difficult to pinpoint when it happened or patterns that led up to it. By keeping a daily fitness journal, you can look back and see perhaps if there are patterns in your workouts that are causing issues.
You may even want to include things that happened that day that may have caused stress or anxiety because these may also be factors in why you’re dealing with persistent injury.
6. Evaluate your emotional health
Again, please don’t roll your eyes on this one, because it very well may be the answer to that nagging back injury or foot pain.
In fact, since the 1970’s a well known surgeon named Dr. Sarno has linked chronic pain and injury to emotional health, particularly emotionally suppression. In his decades of research, he found that many of his patients were not healing even after receiving extensive treatment — even surgery. However, after evaluating the emotional health of his patients, he found when they focussed on those emotions, healing began to take place.
7. Get some sleep
Injuries are inevitable, whether they come from any of the above reasons or even from falling off a pull up bar. One key ingredient to both preventing and recovering from injury is making sure you get enough sleep.
It is during those restful hours when your body repairs itself, and when your mind is able to sort through some of life’s challenges through dreams and even just by settling down and recovering from the day.
And when you wake up, you may very well realize that the aches and pains you felt just the day before have all melted away as if they were all just a dream.