Our musculoskeletal system is robust and can adapt to most stresses encountered in training programs. This means that with adequate, balanced overload of the muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones, all of these structures grow stronger and can withstand increased stress in the future.
The key to minimizing the chance of injury is to listen to your body and avoid common training mistakes:
1. Warm up your body temperature
If exercise is performed when the body is too cold, soft tissue structures such as muscles and tendons are more likely to rupture.
Always spend a few minutes walking, jogging in place or performing the intended exercise at low intensity for a few minutes to elevate body temperature prior to your workout.
2. Build up to greater intensities
This one concept can prevent many injuries. In any exercise, the first few minutes or sets should be taken at easy intensities of speed, resistance and exertion.
As the exercise continues, greater intensities should be gradually increased until the maximum exercise level for that workout is attained.
If we were running, we would not start out at our fastest pace. If lifting, we would not begin with the heaviest weight. If stretching, we would not stretch as far as we possibly could at the beginning of our stretch.
Allowing the body to adapt to ever-increasing demands over the course of the exercise session could help you avoid many strains and sprains!
3. Follow proper form
This cannot be over-emphasized! If proper exercise form is not followed, injury is much more likely. If you do not know what proper form is, check with an expert on that exercise.
4. Stretch your muscles
Most people don’t realize that stretching out before a workout is not always necessary if a proper gradual, dynamic warm-up is performed. In fact, the after-workout stretch is usually more important!
Static stretching after a workout ensures that you loosen tight muscles that have been working. If you don’t stretch these muscles, they could remain tight until the next workout, which could cause injury.
5. Avoid overtraining – know when to rest!
Once a workout has been completed, the body requires adequate rest to repair and regenerate its energy. Your body needs to rest so it can adapt to the stress of the workout and make itself ready for the next workout in a stronger, faster and more efficient way.
Rest helps your body avoid injury and progress through training. Examples of inadequate rest could include:
- Working out too frequently
- Poor sleep
- Inadequate nutrition
- Lack of exercise variety
6. Fueling yourself for performance
Never operate on an empty tank. Prep your body for the challenge with carbs, lean protein and fluids.
- Hydration is key! Give your body the fluid it needs, such as water or sports drinks, for optimal performance.
- Refuel immediately after exercise for growth and repair. Aim for a health mix of carbs, lean protein, healthy fats, and fluids.
If you’d like to learn more about injury prevention, we invite you to read our recent Healthy Habits article on Positive Training Principles for Injury Prevention
(About our guest authors: Veronica Nelson, MBA, CSCS, USAW, HKC, TSAC-F, is Director of Semper Fit Physical Fitness & Aquatics Programs. Lauren King, MS, RD, CSSD, serves as Semper Fit’s Registered Dietitian and Program Manager.)