Most of us know it’s important to warm up and stretch before starting a workout. But this alone is not enough to prevent exercise-related injuries.
To avoid injury, follow these tips:
- Start slow – One of the most common ways people get injured is by doing too much, too soon. I’ll use my own experience as an example. Last winter I ran on a treadmill a few nights a week, but after the weather warmed up, I started running outside every night. This led to running many more miles per week and a lot of extra strain on my body. I ended up with a mild case of plantar fasciitis, which can be a punishing, lingering injury if not immediately addressed. Fortunately, I felt it early and backed off on running for a while. I listened to my pain and did other forms of cardio until the injury was fully healed.The main takeaway? To reduce your risk of exercise-related injury, increase your workouts by no more than 10 percent each week. This applies to the length of your workouts as well as the number of workouts you do per week.
- Listen to your body – If you experience pain while exercising, it’s a good idea to take a step back. Pushing through the pain could lead to a more significant injury. Clear warning signs include pain deep in your joints or pain that affects your range of motion.
- Use proper form – Even if your form is just a little bit off it can lead to an injury over time. To learn proper form, ask your gym for an orientation that includes learning how to use different pieces of equipment. You might also consider working with a personal trainer for a session or two to learn how to correctly perform specific exercises.
- Cross train – Doing the same type of exercise over and over stresses the same muscle groups. For example, if you spend all of your time running, chances are you’ll end up with an overuse injury. A better approach is to incorporate several types of exercise into your workout, including a mix of cardio, strength and flexibility.
Before starting any new exercise routine, you should always consult a primary care provider. He or she will evaluate your physical condition to make sure you’re healthy enough to start an exercise program. To find a primary care provider near you, reach out to your health insurance provider.