The health benefits of exercise far outweigh the risk of injury. Incorporating a few preventative steps before initializing your exercise routine can prepare your body for your workout and help keep you injury free. General injury risk factors include:
- Failure to wear appropriate protective equipment
- Inexperience or improper technique
It’s a good idea to have a medical checkup before you begin an exercise routine if you have a medical condition, are overweight, are aged 40 or older or have not exercised regularly for a long time. Suggested guidelines for exercise injury prevention are:
- Warm up. A warm up can gradually loosen your muscles, boost blood flow to your major muscle groups, increase your metabolic rate and prepare your body for higher intensity activity. Warming up helps put you in the right frame of mind for exercise. Plan to spend 10 – 15 minutes on a warm up routine that uses your whole body. Walking, riding a stationary bike or jumping rope are good warm up exercises to try.
- Ease into your routine. Doing too much too quickly increases the chances of developing injuries. If you are just beginning an exercise program or are starting a new routine, start slowly and progressively increase the intensity, length of time and frequency of your workout. Moderate activity for 30 minutes, three times per week is a great place to begin.
- Set realistic goals. Any new exercise routine, whether you are a beginner or a seasoned athlete, should be based on your current physical condition and injury history.
- Choose the right gear. Choose sport-appropriate clothing, suitable shoes and properly fitted protective gear. Safety gear is designed to protect you during exercise and can lessen the severity of an injury. Be aware of potential hazards beyond your control such as automobiles, uneven surfaces, poor lighting and weather conditions.
- Maintain your posture. The core muscles of the abdomen and back support your spine. A strong core will help protect your back from injury by keeping your spine in good alignment. Maintaining a neutral spine minimizes your risk of back injury. If you are not sure you are doing an exercise correctly, consider a session with a personal trainer. If you are a member of a gym or health club take advantage of trained staff members who can show you the correct form in order to gain the most benefit from your exercise and prevent injury.
- Hydrate. Drink water before, during and after exercise to prevent dehydration. Water is essential to performance. Water not only helps improve muscle tone, it may help you lose weight by suppressing your appetite. Dehydration can cause energy loss and muscle cramping, and can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
- Don’t forget about nutrition. The right combination of nutrients can maximize muscle growth and fuel your body for energy and endurance. Complex carbohydrates help maintain blood glucose levels and replace muscle glycogen, which is the body’s main fuel during prolonged exercise. A small meal or snack two to three hours before a work out helps to keep your body fueled. Food eaten before exercise should be relatively low in fat and fiber, moderate in protein and relatively high in complex carbs. After exercise, a healthy carb and protein snack helps replenish energy stores.
- Remember to use sunscreen. Protect your skin from UV radiation and sun damage. Sunburn is one of the most frequent sports related injuries. If you like to exercise outdoors, remember to wear a hat and sunglasses and protect your eyes as well as your skin.
- Avoid pain. Pain is the body’s response to injury or overuse. There’s a big difference between soreness and pain. Soreness can develop within one or two days after exercise and last between 24 – 48 hours. Pain can occur immediately and persist with either activity or rest. Continuing to exercise while experiencing pain is one sure fire way to develop a chronic or severe injury.
- Take a break. Taking one or two days off each week gives your body a chance to rest and recover between workouts. Consider cross training in order to exercise different muscle groups on alternate days of the week.
- Cool down. Decreasing the intensity of your exercise by continuing to move while cooling down helps your body adjust to a decrease in heart rate and blood pressure, and promotes removal of lactic acid to aid in reducing muscle soreness.
- Stretch regularly. Flexible muscles are less likely to suffer injury. Tight muscles put more stress on tendons, joints and bones. To enhance flexibility, stretch after exercise while muscles are warm. Remember to breathe and hold the stretch for 10 – 30 seconds. Don’t bounce while stretching, and stop short of pain.
Preparation and common sense can help reduce the risks of workout injuries. Keep in mind that it’s much easier to prevent injuries than to recover from them. Should an injury occur, stop exercising immediately and seek medical advice.
Supplements to promote healthy physical activity include:
Klean Endurance by Klean Athlete chewable tablets contain pure, all natural D-Ribose that supports the natural way a body produces adenosine triphosphate (ATP). The natural pentose sugar promotes cardiovascular health, energy production, mitochondrial function and reduces muscle soreness and fatigue.
E-Lyte Sport by E-Lyte/ BodyBio for replacement of sodium, potassium and magnesium. E-Lyte Sport supports training, recovery and peak performance.
B12 Infusion by Enzymatic Therapy chewable tablets are a quickly absorbed active form of vitamin B12 for increased energy production and support. Featuring the preferred form of B12, methylcobalamin, that does not require conversion by the body.
Corvalen Ribose by Douglas Laboratories contains the all-natural ingredient D–Ribose, which is clinically proven to help replenish core energy, improve cardiac function and reduce muscle stiffness, soreness and fatigue.
Electrolyte/Energy Formula by Pure Encapsulations helps replenish electrolytes lost during exertion and supports physical and mental stamina. This formula combines sodium, chloride, potassium, calcium and magnesium to help retain hydration, particularly for workouts lasting longer than 1-2 hours. The maltodextrin and glucose contained in this formula provide pre-exercise support by providing rapidly available energy and helping to preserve glycogen stores during activity. Additionally, they serve to delay fatigue and help replenish glycogen stores post-exercise.