Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Keeping Your Workouts Injury-Free

No matter how committed you are to get in shape, work out injuries may derail your healthful plans – healthy lifestyle living. There are different reasons why injuries happen. It could be that you are doing the wrong work out program. Or it maybe, you have the right program but you're actually doing it the wrong way or perhaps overdoing it.

To avoid workout injuries, try to follow these five basic steps:

1. Know Your Body's Limitations

While this may seem very basic, experts say it's often overlooked. It's about knowing what your weak areas are, and then avoiding the type of activities that are going to push hard on that weakened area. Those who have knee-problems should avoid using a stepper, a treadmill, or do leg presses, which can aggravate an already weakened knee. Better try a stationary bike or an elliptical machine, which does not cause any pounding on the knee joints.

On the other hand, if you have a bad back, avoid doing back stretches on stability ball. Those who have weak wrists should stay away from weight lifting. While people with hip problems may shun joining a spinning class.Acknowledging the weakest areas of your body will allow you to slowly build them up or help avoid the activities that stress them.

2. It's A Matter of Sex

Whether it's politically correct or not, experts say that gender plays a role in workout injuries. There are specific gender-related physiologic issues that can set men and women up for injuries when they do specific types of workouts.

This doesn't mean avoiding certain activities, but taking a few precautions. Generally, men function better in activities requiring a rigid plane of motion like weight lifting in a restricted format, push-ups, Nautilus machines, etc. Women, who have certain flexibility issues, do better at activities requiring multiple or diagonal planes of motion, like Pilates, yoga, a stair stepper, or spinning. In these activities, most men are more likely to be injured. Women, likewise, should exert greater care when participating in activities requiring quick “twist and turn” leg motions, such as skiing, basketball, and racquet sports.

During menstrual cycle, women are more prone to fitness injuries since hormones can increase the looseness of the joints and make injury more likely to occur.

3. Train With A PRO.

Taking a few lessons with a certified trainer will help ensure that your body is in proper alignment while you're working out, which can go a long way in protecting you from exercise injuries. An expert advice can also keep you from doing the wrong workouts for your body type and help you moderate your routines to avoid doing too much, too soon.

A professional trainer will aid in the appropriate progression of exercises, weights, and rest periods. The right program will allow muscles to heal properly, which in turn helps avoid some of the more common injuries.

4. Warm Up and Slow down

You are less likely to get injured if you warm up before every workout and slowly build the pace over time. It helps the muscles so they are less likely to be injured, and the pacing is just the commonsense way to avoid injury.If you're new to weight training, start with weights you can lift for 8-12 reps, and do no more than three sets. When that gets easy, increase the weight by just 2% (and no more than 10%) at your next session. Do not overestimate your strength. It may lead to improper technique and recruitment of auxiliary muscles, which means, a higher risk of injury.

5. Variation And Rest

Perfecting your program by doing it over and over again can also set you up for a workout injury. It can overuse the muscle and may lead to repetitive use injuries, such as shin splints, tendinitis, and never-ending muscle soreness.

Varying your workout can solve the problem. If you're running on a treadmill one day, you can lift weights the next day.
Rest between workouts is also important. Tired muscles are an invitation to injury, so give yourself adequate time to rest and recover. Keep a small injury from becoming worse by resting the sore muscle.

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