The main goal of exercising is improving your health, so you don’t want to injure yourself in the process. The first steps toward avoiding exercise-related injury should be made before you even enter the gym. Anyone planning on devising a workout plan should consult a physician first. Also, while not all medical conditions will prevent you from exercising, it’s best to make sure of what the appropriate exercises are, and here your physician and a personal trainer are of great help.
In addition, mind your posture when you’re not working out. Not all of us can avoid sedentary jobs, but measures can be taken to minimize the damage. Keep your shoulders and back straight and avoid arching your neck when looking at the computer screen.
When you do start exercising, you have to be mindful of various possible injuries to your neck, upper and lower back, feet, ankles and knees. Not only that, but your muscles can also get pulled and your tendons inflamed. This occurs when you push too hard at the very beginning, and you can prevent this by warming up (through some light cardio) and stretching before your exercises and cooling down after them by walking. Stretching will also reduce the risk of hurting your neck, back and ankles while working out.
It’s also important to know what your physical capabilities are and choose your exercises accordingly. For example, don’t lift weights you can barely pick up. Start out with what you’re comfortable with and then gradually build up toward bigger weights. Another measure toward preventing injury is to keep the exercises varied. This will help you avoid overworking your muscles and joints. The simplest strategy is to alternate strength exercises with cardio.
Of course, your exercise equipment should also be chosen carefully. Sneakers that lift your heels too high above your toes can be problematic, as they can cause a lot of strain to the front of your feet, while the ankles suffer, too. It’s best when your whole foot is carrying the weight, so choose the appropriate training shoes.
Once in the gym, you should make sure that the machines are set up properly and take further measures to keep them safe. Use safety pins and clips when you’re benching and squatting. You don’t want to get trapped under all that weight or have the plates slide off and crush your foot or someone else’s. Whenever possible, have someone overlook your exercises (these guys are the so called “spotters”).
Be careful with treadmills. Concentrate throughout the exercise and make sure to maintain balance, as it’s easy to slip and fall. Remember to keep your fingers away from the belt. Also, while high intensity workouts on the treadmill have their benefits, too much can overstrain your knees, in which case an exercise bike is a good alternative.
As always, it’s important to keep proper form. If you see that a weightlifting set, for example, constantly leaves you in a great amount of pain, you may want to adjust your body position in the future.
While in the gym, you should also keep the safety of others in mind. Just as you should mark off the area you need for a comfortable and safe exercise set (you can set a boundary with a couple of towels, for example), others need space, too. Not only is it impolite to intrude on someone’s personal space while they’re working out, it’s also dangerous for both you and them.
If you do injure yourself, avoid the exercise that caused it for a while. When you decide you can do it again, re-start slowly. And always remember: safety comes first.
In order to make sure you are doing your exercises properly, try consulting a personal trainer before you embark on any high-scale routine. A trainer will show you the right postures and movements, and will thus greatly minimize your risk of injury. You can also get nutrition tips and an entire exercise routine planned, which will save you the hit and miss enterprises most people start out with in the gym.