7 top tips to keep you in the gym!

Being physically active requires you to take proper steps to avoid injuries. While you may not be able to avoid all injuries, there are many that can be prevented with a few, simple precautions.

 

Get the right gear.

Often, injuries are caused by improper fitness equipment. Make sure that you’re wearing shoes and clothes that fit properly. I’ve learned from experience the importance of a good pair of shoes. Also, make sure that if your activity requires any equipment, you use models that fit correctly and meet common safety standards.

 

Warm up!

Make sure you aren’t skipping your warm up before your workout. Warming up is crucial to prepare your body for the physical activity that you are about to perform. A warm-up should create an easy transition into your workout. To prepare your body for upcoming movements,  you’re warm up should start with a cardiovascular activity for 5-10 minutes. Next, it should mimic movements that you’ll be performing throughout your workout, but with a lighter or easier intensity. Performing dynamic stretches will also help you improve your range of motion and prepare your tendons, joints, and muscles. They can also increase your performance and decrease your risk of injury. Your warm-up should make you break a sweat. The more your body is prepared for your workout, the less likely it is that you’ll get injured.

 

Cool it down.

Cooling down after a workout is often overlooked. Always participate in a 5-10 minute, easy cardiovascular cooldown, followed by some stretching. It will actually help prepare you for your next workout. Cooldowns will help flush the lactic acid from your muscles, which decreases muscle soreness and will aid in your recovery.

 

Use proper form.

While performing a new movement, make sure that you’re using proper technique. I like to make sure that I watch a credible source to see how to properly perform the move correctly. Carry out the movement first without any weight to make sure you can do it correctly. If you still aren’t sure if you’re performing a movement right, videotape yourself, so you can critique and perfect your form.

 

Ease into things.

I know it’s tempting to jump into the thick of things when you’re starting to work out again. However, this can cause excessive muscle tightness and soreness that may lead to injury. Allow your body to slowly progress to more and more difficult workouts. Slowly increase the amount of time, weight, and intensity of each workout. Just remember to keep your workout appropriate for your unique fitness level.

 

No pain, no gain?

Your body gives you warning signs through aches and pains, telling you when to back off. If ignored, what was once a mere annoyance can become something more serious. Listen to your body’s warning signs instead of pushing through the pain. Lower the intensity or have a rest day. You should be giving your body at least one rest day a week to allow your muscles to recover. Also, incorporate cross training in your routine so that you can give overused muscles a break. Biking and swimming are great cross-training options, are easier on the joints, and will challenge other areas of your body.

 

Muscle balance.

When our muscles are well-balanced, it can keep injuries at bay. When one area of our body is weaker than the rest, it means that other muscles are picking up the slack and something will eventually give. Muscle balance is making sure that you’re symmetrical. This means that you should work out top, bottom, front, back, left, and right. Poor muscle balance can cause injury to your joints, tendons, or other muscles, because your body is overcompensating.

 

It’s very common for people to focus on the muscles that show the most. That’s why people tend to do a lot of push exercises that work the chest or shoulders, and these muscles get worked more than the back. This causes a lack of balance around the shoulder girdle. You can prevent this by doing more pull ups and row machines. Also, poor core muscles can actually cause your whole body to be out of whack, and soon you’ll sacrifice your form. To encourage muscle balance, incorporate big compound movements and total body workouts.

 

As humans, we tend to gravitate to the movements and workouts we’re good at…I’m very guilty of this. If there’s a movement that you tend to avoid, it’s probably a sign that you’re lacking in that area. So make sure that you’re never skipping the movements that you hate. Just pump up the music and get to it!

 

Michelle Alley

iFit Nutritionist