There’s all kinds of advice out there on getting and staying fit. There are even social media accounts dedicated to different squat exercises and fitness challenges. But there’s a dark side to working out, and it’s called injury. Nothing is worse than getting on the road to health and hitting the ultimate roadblock and having to return to adopt a sedentary lifestyle while you heal. Or worse, attempt to return to your workout routine too early and injure yourself further, or even permanently. Here are some tips to keeping your workout from hurting your health and fitness goals.
Warm Up Done Right
One of the leading causes of injury is going too hard too fast, with tens of thousands of injuries reported in public, private and home gyms every year. If you don’t believe us, take it from the American Heart Association; just like warming up a car, it’s crucial to the effectiveness of your workout as well as your long-term health to warm up your body before you go hard at any exercise.
Men’s Fitness has a great guide for preventing starting with a serious and seriously short warm up with great tips like doing a set of push ups before hitting the bench press. Not only are you prepping your muscles, but your brain as well. According to Men’s Fitness, you need to commit just 20 minutes a week to serious stretching in order to greatly reduce your chances at injury.
Work for Prevention
If you’re a runner or cycler, be sure to work some strength training exercises, even if they are easy to do at home calisthenics, to keep your muscle mass and bone density at optimal levels. There are many of these bodyweight exercises you can do at home and even more with a few pieces of equipment at the gym. Calisthenics also promote weight loss, provide more of a full body workout than weight training, and often help balance out a disproportionate body shape. Bonus: the body weight based equipment at the gym often have the shortest lines! According to Men’s Fitness, you need 2-3 30 minute sessions per week for optimal results.
Agility is Everything
If you’re feeling sluggish or tired and you head to the gym, bravo. But you need to be aware that diminished physical agility and mental sharpness can make you extra vulnerable to injury. Invest some time in agility based exercises at least twice a month and when you are feeling sluggish or out of it, for a double duty workout and injury prevention practice. Medicine ball drills, ladder drills, and agility balls are just a few of the best exercises for increasing agility, according to the American Council on Exercise. Remember, agility isn’t just about speed and the ability to quickly change direction. It’s about grace and fluidity of movement, which can mean the difference between a serious injury and a seriously satisfying workout.
Take a Class or Hire a Trainer
When in doubt, ask a professional, always! Risking your health is something you just can’t afford to do. If you have questions, concerns, or worst of all pain, the best thing you can do is talk to the trainer at your gym and your doctor right away! The worst thing you can do is continue on in pain. “Toughing it out” is antiquated thinking that will just make your fitness goals farther out of reach. Taking a class or hiring a trainer in the first place is also a great idea to ensure that you’re using proper form for things like cycling and yoga, and using weight training and cardio equipment properly as well. If you’re a member of 24 Hour Fitness, it’s easy to find a professional who can help you determine what’s the next best step for you.
Author Info: Stacy Eden is a Phoenix, Arizona native with a passion for art, power tools, and historical significance. She draws inspiration from classic cars, ancient mythological sculptures and jewelry designers such as Delfina Delettrez, Shaun Leane, and Dior Jewellery creative director Victoire de Castellane.