Nearly every day I hear about someone hurting themselves doing something while working out. Muscle tears. Fatigue. Ankle sprains. Pain in joints. Tight muscles. Or worse. Some of these injuries are common and minor, but some are downright dangerous and permanent. Regardless, most injuries are easily preventable with proper knowledge and care. You can be in control of your body and your safety with these tips.
1. When working out, wear appropriate clothing and shoes. Flip flop sandals are not proper footwear for lifting weights or running. Closed toe shoes with proper ankle support are great options instead. Working out in warm weather or environments requires breathable clothing. You want to work up a sweat, but you also want to allow your body to breathe and cool down. Do some research before taking classes or trying a new workout routine to ensure you dress appropriately.
2. Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. It is important to hydrate before you work out, during the workout, and after you finish. Stay away from sugary drinks as they simply make you more thirsty. Consider water to be your best friend.
3. Visit your doctor regularly and before you begin a new workout routine. Tell your doctor about your overall health, what you do to work out, and any tweaks or pains you feel before, during, or after the work out.
4. If you are working with a class instructor or a personal trainer, inform them of any injuries before the class or session begins. The instructor/trainer wants to know if your body requires special attention; they can offer modifications and assistance specific to your body’s needs. If an injury occurs during the class or session, speak up and let the instructor/trainer know.
5. Modify the workout so it fits your needs. Up the reps, slow down the pace, or introduce a balance challenge. Make each workout fit your body best by modifying it so it works for you.
6. Don’t skip the warm up and cool down processes. These motions allow your body to prepare for what is about to come by warming up muscles, increasing blood flow, and getting some movement in the body. At cool down, these movements offer your body the opportunity to safely and slowly return to its regular state.
7. Know your body! Listen to what it is saying to you each day and every moment while working out. It will tell you if you can keep going, if you need to change the pace, or if you need a break. Push yourself to your edge, not to the edge of the person next to you.