No matter what level of fitness you partake in, there’s always a chance of injury while exercising. Stay safe by using the following injury prevention tips before, after and during your workouts and while you’re playing sports.
This list of tips is broken down by style and type of exercise. If you have any questions specific to the type of workouts you perform, share your questions in the comment section below!
Practice proper form: When using machine weights, free weights or your own body weight, make sure your body is in a safe alignment to prevent injuries (core engaged, shoulders back, look forward). If this seems challenging, use lighter weights and resistance to ensure proper form. Once you are confident with your form, increase the weight in small increments. For additional back support, a weight belt is a great tool to help keep the body aligned.
Avoid over-training your muscles: When muscles are worked too hard, they are unable to repair correctly. Not only will forgoing a break result in weakened muscles during the next day’s work out, but it can also lead to chronic injuries. Muscles grow, repair and become stronger on rest days. Take at least 1-2 per week.
Slow down: Whether you’re a seasoned CrossFitter or just starting out, trying to increase your training too quickly can cause injury. Progress gradually by settings goals and working with a coach who’s familiar with training CrossFit athletes.
Know your limitations: Since recovery is so important, we’re going to talk about it again! Give your muscles time to recover so they can perform their best! Otherwise, you risk altering the function of the exercise, which cause stress on other muscles.
Run on level surfaces: Walking and running are two of the best exercises for heart health—and just like any other workout, these activities can cause stress on your muscles. If you walk or run outdoors, you may tend to run the same route every day. Doing this may cause a functional leg length discrepancy (a condition in which the paired lower extremity limbs have a noticeably unequal length) because the same foot may be hitting the ground on a slope lower than the other foot. One foot has a limited healthy pronation while the other is in a position to over pronate. Take walks or runs on a level surface such as a bike path, local track or treadmill to prevent this from happening.
Stretch hamstrings & calves: Without proper stretching, back-of-the-leg muscles may become tight meaning, you guessed it, more prone to injury. Flexible hamstrings and hip flexors seem to improve knee function and flexible calves may keep plantar fascia and Achilles tendons healthy. Performing static stretching (holding the stretch for at least 30 seconds) along with dynamic stretching (ex. a lung with a twist), are effective ways to stretch before you hit the pavement.
Protect your lower back: One of the most common injuries resulting from a yoga practice is the lower back, which can be triggered by rounding the spine in poses like down dog or forward folds. Before bending too deep into a pose, avoid rounding the back by lengthening the spine up and away from the hips. Also, try bending the knees in poses to alleviate lower back pain.
Don’t risk your wrists!: Many yoga poses require your hands on the mat, which, at first, may cause you to over-engage your wrists. This, however, is not the intention. Avoid joint and muscle injuries by spreading your hands wide and pressing through your fingers, while distributing your body weight through both hands.