Exercising Without Injury
To reduce your chances of exercising without injury and getting hurt while you're getting fit, we advise that you take these simple, common-sense precautions below to start exercising without injury.
5 Simple Ways to Stay Injury Free
See Your Doctor
Schedule a complete physical with your family physician before you begin any new exercise program or significantly increase the intensity or frequency of an existing one. In most cases, your doctor will give you the medical go-ahead to exercise. Your doctor will also applaud and support your efforts. But do not make the mistake of taking this step for granted or considering it a mere formality, it can be key to exercising without injury.
Many collegiate and professional athletes in other words, some of the most highly conditioned people in the world have suffered strokes, had seizures, and even died on the practice field from preexisting conditions that had gone undiagnosed. So get that checkup right away. It's a mandatory first step.
Useful Tips To Start Exercising Injury Free
Wear Appropriate Protective Gear And Clothing
For cyclists, skate-boarders, and Rollerblades, this translates to donning a helmet, elbow pads, and knee pads, not just when you feel like it but every time out, to help prevent the broken bones, concussions, and serious head injuries of all kinds that occur much more often than most participants in these activities realize.
Long pants and a long-sleeved top are also good ideas for prevention of cuts, scrapes, and bruises. Runners and walkers, for their part, will want to choose the right shoes to absorb the shock of the thousands of pounds of pressure that result from each footfall, plus wear reflective clothing when they run or walk at night (ditto for cyclists). Of course, we can't cover every sport here, but you get the drift. No get the gear and wear it!
Include Rest in Your Routine
As you'll recall from our discussion of how muscles (including the heart) become stronger, rest is a necessary component of any exercise regimen. In fact, it takes your muscle fibers about two full days to recover completely from the effects of vigorous exercise. Now, this doesn't mean that you are limited to exercising every third day, or that you have to be completely inactive on your "off" days.
A very light, low-impact workout, for instance, qualifies as rest, and may even speed the recovery of exercise-fatigued muscles by causing extra blood to be sent their way. Similarly, an anaerobic training session can count as rest from the previous day's aerobic workout if different muscle groups are used, and vice versa. You should, however, treat yourself to a full day of rest at least once or twice a week, especially if you are the type that tends to get manic about exercise.
Too much uninterrupted training can easily lead to overuse injuries, increased susceptibility to cold and flu bugs, and a generalized sense of mental and physical exhaustion, all of which will set your fitness back much further than the odd day off ever will.
Build Fitness Gradually Over Time
A fitness routine founded on the idea that you can make up for years—or even months—of inactivity with a short flurry of intense work is misguided at best, downright dangerous at worst.
Slow And Steady For Success
When you try to achieve too much, too quickly, you're fairly begging to get hurt. A safer and more fundamentally sound approach is to progress in small, measured steps from month to month, and also allow yourself time to plateau for a while at each new stage of fitness.
While this may seem counterproductive especially if you tend to be the impatient, goal-driven sort, it's important to realize that the days and weeks you spend maintaining fitness are every bit as crucial to the long term success of your program as the days and weeks you spend building it. You should view them not so much as a delay in progress but as a means of cementing the gains you've made to date and exercising without injury.
Exercising Without Injury
Updated October 19, 2011