You're committed to getting in shape or to restarting a long-abandoned fitness routine. You jump into your workout with gusto. Oh oh ! The next thing you know, you're hurting. What happened? Usually, it's because you're doing the right activity with poor form, or too much for a newbie. Or, it could be that you have chosen the wrong activity for your body tor physical conditioning. Here are some things you can do to avoid getting injured.
- Be realistic about your body's abilities: If you have knee problems, you don't want to do impact exercises like running or jumping rope. A good alternative would be a stationary bike or an elliptical trainer. If you have hip issues, you want to reconsider participating in that spinning class.
- Hire a trainer: One of the best ways to avoid injury is to have at least a few sessions with a certified personal trainer. A trainer will teach you proper form (body alignment) for weight lifting, running and other exercises. The trainer will also aid in the appropriate progression of weights, exercises and rest periods. Make sure that your trainer is aware of your age (if you're over 50 it's best not to hire someone in their 20's).
- Don't overdo it: The way to avoid repetitive stress injuries is to not do the same exercise over and over. Shin splints, tendonitis and long-term muscle soreness are often the result of overuse.
- Give muscles adequate rest: If you do upper body one day, you could do lower body the next and maybe a cardio activity, abs and balance on the third. It's ok to workout every day, just give tired muscles time for rest and recovery. Warm-up, cool down and take it slow: You'll be less likely to get injured if you warm up first. You want a moderately paced cool-down after a workout so that blood doesn't pool in your extremities. Take it slow means "pace yourself." So, if you're new to weight training, start with weights you can lift for 8 to 15 reps and don't do more than 3 sets. When that gets easy, you can gradually increase the weight and number of sets over time.
- And last, but certainly not least, Stretch: Find some time in your day to stretch...it's like changing the oil in your car, only for your body!
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