Tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions. Now for most people this time of year means a new beginning, trying new things, and sometimes even inching out of our comfort zone. When it comes to exercise this can be a great thing! Variety in training helps keep things fun, exciting, and challenging. The problem is due to lack of experience and knowledge, these new endeavors can sometimes lead to serious injuries that can ruin your year.
Here is a list of tips that can help you avoid those unwanted injuries and help get your New Year started off right.
1. Proper Technique- Always remember to use proper form and technique during any exercises program. Ask a professional to assess your form, or use a mirror to make sure your performing your exercises correctly.
2. Warming Up- Always make sure to warm-up for 5 minutes before each exercise routine. Some great dynamic warm-up exercises are windmills, torso twists, sky arm reaches, wrist circles, neck circles, lunges, lateral leg swings, and toe touches.
3. Hire a Pro- One of the best ways to avoid injury is to take a few lessons with a certified trainer. This will help ensure your body is in proper alignment while you’re working out, which can go a long way toward protecting you from exercise injuries.
4. Act Your Age- Unfortunately as we get older it takes our body longer to recover and injures happen more easily. When approaching any new exercise program remember to be smart and take it slow. Water aerobics, indoor biking, and walking on the treadmill are all great ways to start working out. You can check your local communities for Senior programs, or even try free classes at local gyms. Leave your ego at home. Too many people try to act like their twenty again and the end result is that you do too much too quickly for too long with too much intensity and injury is often the end result.
5. Don’t Overdo It- Repetitive movements can lead to shin splints, tendinitis, and chronic muscle soreness. Athletes fall prey to this mentality more than any other demographic. Most of the time I see this happening to new gym goers, because they are scared of variety and want to stick with what has worked for them in the past. While doing one exercise over and over will certainly help you perfect it, it can also set you up for a variety of workout related injuries. Try varying your workout every couple weeks. For example, instead of running everyday try biking, swimming, tennis, Zumba, or HIIT cardio classes. If you’re an avid weight lifter, then instead of lifting single muscle group (arms, chest, back, legs), try performing total body workout routines with lighter weight.
Always remember the principle F.I.T.T., which stands for Frequency, Intensity, Time, and Type. Switching up anyone of these in your routine will help prevent injury and keep things fun. Plus varying your workouts will keep your body guessing, which means faster results!
6. Remember your Sex- Both men and women have specific gender-related physiologic issues that can set them up for injuries when they do specific types of workouts. Now I'm not saying certain genders should avoid certain types of workouts, but it does mean precautions should be take when performing some exercises. For example, women have more flexibility in their joints, especially the knees. This makes them more prone to ACL injuries, so they should take greater care when participating in activities that require quick "twist and turn" leg motions, such as skiing, basketball, and racquet sports. Men are better at rigid movements like Olympic weight lifting, push-ups, and machines, but because of their lack of flexibility activities requiring multiple or diagonal planes of motion, like Pilates, yoga, Zumba, stair steppers, or cycling, can cause greater risk of injury.
*The most important tip of all is always listen to your body. You're the best judge of how you feel during, or after a workout and always ask a professional before starting any new workout routine.