Fitness is fun, but it can also be quite dangerous. Whether you exercise at a fitness facility or in the privacy of your own home, the opportunity for injury will exist—and nothing can sideline your progress quite like an unexpected injury. But don't let this risk stop you! Fitness injuries can be preventable. Here are a few things to consider:
1) Keep an open dialogue with your physician.
If you have any recurring health issues, or if you are beginning a new exercise program, you should always check in with your doctor. They may protect you with valid reasons why you should stop before you start. Or change what you're doing. Additionally, if something doesn't feel right to you (like a painful muscle or joint), your physician can address the potential injury before it gets worse.
2) Warm up and cool down.
Jump into any workout without warming up and you're basically asking your body to work before it's ready to. Give your body a chance to prepare for the challenge ahead of it—to redistribute the flow of blood to working muscles, to bring your heart rate up gradually, and to prepare the lungs for enhanced breathing. Additionally, the warm up prepares you body for any movement patterns it will need to perform.And on the flip, the cool down will safely return you body back to its resting state.
3) Inspect your equipment and the space around it.
Fitness equipment does not last forever. It is always a good idea to inspect what you intend o use before you begin your workout. Faulty equipment cannot be trusted, and if it fails, it can affect your ability to correctly perform an exercise. Make sure the space around you is clear so that you can move about without falling over anything. It takes two seconds to put something away, but far longer to recover from a sprained ankle.
4) Respect your limit and adjust as needed.
The greatest risk for injury occurs the moment you are unable to execute an exercise with proper form or alignment. When the going gets tough, there is nothing wrong with modify the one to reach the finish line. This is exactly how you work toward new levels of strength without hurting yourself. Biceps curls don't count if you have to kick out your elbows or lean back in order to lift the weight to your shoulders. And furthermore, "no pain...no gain" is not necessarily the golden rule. Paint will often translate to "problem." Honor your limit and rest if necessary.
5) Ask for help.
If you don't know how to use a piece of equipment, or if you don't know how to perform an exercise that intrigues you—ask a fitness professional for help. Attempting to figure it out on your own can A) lead to immediate injury, or B) set you up for injuries down the road.
6) Question the help.
If you are working with a personal trainer, or if your group fitness instructor is leading you down a path that doesn't feel right—employ the open dialogue technique. Communicate questions and concerns. Fitness professionals are really good at noticing issues, but they truly welcome your feedback. They want you to speak up if something doesn't feel right. Yes, they are the professionals and you can trust them—but it is ultimately your body and only know what that body is feeling.
Bottom line, fitness should be fun AND positive. And the only way to keep it that way is by ensuring you are taking the right...the safe...approach. Getting hurt is a thousand steps back, and in the case of fitness, forward is the progress you're looking for.
Question: Ever experience a fitness related injury? How did you cope? What did you do? And what could you have done differently to prevent it?