Avoiding injury is something that every athlete should be focused on, especially when beginning an exercise program. Here are some basic ways to avoid workout injuries:
- Warm up properly
- Seek guidance from experts
- Wear proper shoes for your sport
- Have the right gear (weight belt anyone?)
- Go slowly
- Know your limits
- Rest, refuel and recharge
Now that you understand the basics, let’s talk about the most common workout injuries. In a series of five blogs, we’ll cover 25 of the most common workout injuries. Below you’ll find the first five, as well as how to avoid them:
#1. Muscle Strain/Pull
This injury happens when your muscle is overstretched or torn. It can happen as a result of improper form during lifts, going too heavy, overuse and fatigue. Most common strains are back, neck, shoulder, biceps and hamstring.
Solution: Muscle strains can happen even with proper preparation, however, taking these steps can help avoid them.
- Stretch – Get into a daily routine of stretching your full body. Before workouts, stretch the muscle groups you will be working. Stretch every time before exercise.
- Warm Up – Don’t just dive into your workouts. Do at least 15 minutes of exercise that warms up your muscles and gets your heart rate going.
#2. Ankle Sprain
This injury occurs when the ankle is twisted at an unnatural angle and becomes inflamed and sore.
Solution: Ankle sprains can happen anytime and anywhere, but are most likely to happen when walking on uneven surfaces or with bad footwear.
- Gear Up – Wear proper athletic shoes. Make sure they fit properly and are made for the surface or activity you are undertaking.
- Road Work – Run on even surfaces or roads. Avoid broken sidewalks and areas that are littered with obstacles and hazards.
- Tread Smartly – When on the treadmill, maintain your focus and take a break if you are losing concentration. To strengthen your ankles, try incorporating walking calf raises into your exercise routine.
#3. Shoulder Injury
Shoulder injuries usually involve the muscles, ligaments, tendons and rotator cuff. Shoulder injuries are most common in athletes who develop problems from repetitive motions and intense training.
Solution: Shoulder injuries are often a result of repetitive movements. To avoid injury, you should pay attention to pain in your shoulder and give yourself adequate rest before training.
- Warm Up – Start your shoulder workouts right by warming up the joint with movements and exercises to stretch and strengthen the tendons and rotator cuff.
- Start Light – Use weights that you can easily lift to start. Do not increase weight until you are comfortable with starting weight and properly warmed up.
- Proper Form – Use slow and controlled movements.
- Ice – Ice shoulders after training to reduce inflammation.
#4. Bone Fracture
Putting too much stress on your bones can lead to breaks or fractures. They are actually very common injuries in adults, especially as we age. Bone fractures occur most often in the wrist, ankle and hip.
Solution: When it comes to bone fractures, you need to be smart. Be aware of your body and never push past your limits when you are experiencing pain or discomfort in the area.
- Bone Fuel – Get the right amounts of calcium and vitamin D.
- Workout – Exercise regularly to improve bone density.
- Test Yourself – If you experience regular fractures, have your doctor do a bone density test.
- Smart Moves – Avoid rapid bending and twisting.
Your body can overheat for a number of reasons but when it does, you may be experiencing either heat exhaustion, or the more serious heatstroke. The early symptoms of the two are the same and include goosebumps, tingling skin, nausea and headache.
Solution: The easiest way to ensure your body doesn’t overheat is to hydrate – even when you aren’t thirsty. Drink water before your workout, during your workout and after your workout. For really intense workouts, start hydrating the day before. Here are a few other suggestions.
- Avoid Diuretics – Do not drink beverages that can cause you to lose fluids. Alcohol, along with sugary and caffeinated drinks can contribute to dehydration.
- Rest – Pay attention to your body. When you need a break or a rest, take one. If you are sweating heavily, make sure you stop to take a drink.
- Know Your Environment – Check the weather before you head out for a run. Run in the morning as opposed to noon when the sun is directly overhead. Choose a route that has places for you to rest and seek shade. Choose a gym with air conditioning and proper ventilation.
Stay tuned for Part 2, where we’ll cover five more common workout injuries and how to avoid them.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding workout injuries.