The most common exercise injuries are lower back, leg and shoulder injuries. Here are a few tips to keep in mind that will leave you worry free of injury.
- Make sure you’re properly hydrated and nourished
- Learn the motion using the bar/light weight
- Never sacrifice form to push an extra rep
- Use machines over free-weight whenever possible
- Always have a spotter
- Avoid static stretching (holding a stretched position)
- Do dynamic stretching (A body weight/light weight version of the exercise)
- Perform every exercise slow and controlled
- Avoid using momentum to lift & avoid letting the weight drop on the way down
Preventing Exercise Injuries
There is no ghost so difficult to lay as the ghost of an injury.
Slow and Steady
The best way to prevent muscle tears and pulls is to do the exercise slow. Instead of exploding, gradually increase your strength until you lift the weight, then slowly lower it. Our muscles are like rubber bands. If you pull a rubber band fast, you have a higher chance of exercise injuries. If you use momentum to help you lift a weight, sometimes it will allow you to lift weight that your muscles can’t handle. Jerking or quick bursting motions are responsible for most injuries.
Form & Technique
Form and technique are very important when working out, especially when using free-weights. Often times, when using free-weight, there is a lot of balancing required. Let’s keep in mind that balance is a mental skill. When our muscles begin to tire, the focus goes on exerting more power, so we lose focus on our technique. When we give more attention to the lift than the technique, there is a wider window for injuries to occur.
Make sure you always have a spotter to assist you. Keep your technique in mind and be patient. If you notice that your technique is beginning to break, don’t risk it, stop! I personally prefer machines over free-weights because there is less technique involved. Using a leg press over a barbell squat is much safer, with very little difference in outcome. Our body recognizes resistance. Whether it’s a machine or barbell, you will get similar results. The only difference being that machines are safer because there is less skill involved. Less skill involved means more attention can be catered to the lift.
Stretching the right way is very important. Static stretching is undesirable. Static stretching means touching your toes and holding. There are a few problems with static stretching. One problem is loss of strength. Stretching puts stress on the muscles that can actually cause you to perform with less energy for your exercise. Another reason is injury. Over extend the muscle and something may be pulled.
The best stretching is dynamic stretching. An example of this is doing a squat with a weightless bar or doing body weight squats before a leg press. This gets the blood flowing in your legs and prevents cramps.
Hydration & Mineral Management
Water, sodium, magnesium and potassium are very important. Without proper hydration and minerals, you’re more likely to get cramps, feel tired and get headaches. Bring your own water bottle and make it a habit to drink some homemade broth for the extra minerals.
Avoid working out if you feel sluggish, light headed or have a headache. Drink water, eat, rest and come back later. Exercise injuries also happen from poor nutritional maintenance.