Injury Prevention Tips
You know physical activity is good for your body and mind, but if you get hurt while exercising, you may end up feeling worse than before. Sadly, many people grow discouraged from working out because of these injuries, and the cycle of inactivity continues. Most exercise-related injuries, however, can be prevented with some fairly straightforward habits that will set you up for success.
Start with a Dynamic Warm-Up
It’s tempting to skip warm-up when you’re itching to get those workout minutes under your belt. But don’t do it! Getting your body ready to exercise is key to preventing injury.
A dynamic warm-up should take between 5-10 minutes, depending on the intensity of your exercise regimen. Try the following warm-ups to see what works best for you:
- Jump roping at a slow speed for 1-2 minutes
- Low or high kicks while walking or standing in place
- Cross over steps
- Lunges or lateral lunges while progressing forward or sideways
- Jogging or walking with high knees
End with Static Stretching
Static stretching consists of placing your muscle in its elongated position for a period of time. Research shows that stretching a muscle for 30 seconds or up to 2 minutes is best for improving flexibility and preventing pulled or strained muscles. You should stretch your hamstrings and quads after performing any type of running or jogging.
Motivated to run? Excellent! Just remember to begin gradually. Start off with running or a combination of running and walking for half a mile, then progress by adding a half mile to a mile each week. Pacing yourself will prepare your body for physical activity and limit muscle soreness after exercise. Think of it as building a foundation for a long-term healthy habit.
Go to the Pool
Activities in the water limit the stress placed on the joints. If you need to decrease the impact of your exercise regimen, and especially if you have arthritis, try walking in water or taking a water aerobics class, which will decrease your pain and improve your strength.
No Pain No Gain? Not Always
It is normal to experience muscle soreness 12-48 hours after exercise, but muscle soreness is different than pain. If you’re feeling sharp or constant pain during exercise, your body is telling you something: Stop!
Don’t Overdo It
Thirty to sixty minutes of exercise per day is adequate for increasing your overall health. Excessive exercise can lead to consequences such as muscle breakdown or injury to your ligaments or joints. Additionally, it’s more realistic to keep a time commitment you can stick to, which will keep you more fit in the long run.
Eat a Proper Diet
Be sure to consume 1,200-2,000 calories per day, depending on your age, weight and height. Consume a diet rich in fiber, protein, and vegetables and remember to eat healthy carbohydrates (fruits, whole grain foods, oatmeal, and etc.) to provide you with extra energy for workouts! Also, stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
If you’re beginning a new exercise program, remember to consult your doctor prior to any type of physical activity to see if it is safe or appropriate for you.
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