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Sep 16, 2012

How to Avoid Injury While Exercising

People who are just beginning workout routines are especially prone to exercise injuries, but they can also happen to experienced athletes. Below are a few simple ways that you can help keep your body protected from unnecessary injuries.

#1 – Always warm up first
Sometimes a warm up can seem redundant – won’t your body warm up anyway after you’ve been working out for a few minutes?  Yes, but warming up first can help loosen your muscles and joints before you get into the higher intensity workouts, which is when most injuries happen.  Though it may seem like a waste of time, make warming up a priority in your workout routine.
You can warm up by doing some light cardio (e.g. walking) before a cardio or weight training session. Five minutes is usually good enough to get your body ready for exercise; if you have any medical conditions, such as asthma, a 10 minute warm up may be right for you.
#2 – Don’t overdo it
When you’re working out to lose weight and get into shape, you may be tempted to work a little harder than you are ready for because you think it will help you lose weight and reach your goals faster.  Unfortunately, you won’t be making much progress if you end up flat on your back in bed because you pulled a muscle or tore a ligament.  Slow and steady may seem to take longer to yield results, but it’s better than coming to a dead standstill because you hurt yourself.

#3 – Use proper equipment
Don’t skimp on the things you need to work out effectively and safely – like high-quality clothing and shoes, bicycle helmet and padding for elbows and knees, and even buying good-quality workout equipment itself, like machines and weights.  Cheaper isn’t always better or safer.

#4 – Common sense
You would be amazed at the way supposedly intelligent people seem to lose their common sense when they begin an exercise routine.  Keep your common sense alive and well, and listen to it when it warns you about something.  Trying to bench press 150 pounds when you haven’t stepped foot in a gym for 8 years maybe isn’t the wisest thing to do.  Trying to run a marathon when you haven’t walked farther than the distance from your sofa to your refrigerator … you get the idea.  Always err on the side of caution and you will be able to prevent 99% of workout injuries.

#5 – Always cool down afterward
Cooling down and stretching your muscles after a workout is just as important as a proper warm up.  Just a few minutes of stepping down your intensity gradually and then gently stretching out the muscle groups you just worked can go a long way in preventing soreness and strain.  This applies no matter what kind of workout you do, everything from running to aerobics to cycling to weight training.