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6 Ways to Avoid Injuries When Working Out

6 Ways to Avoid Injuries When Working Out

I can’t tell you how often people approach me at the gym to tell me that they’ve been injured working out and ask me “What should I do now?” Somehow they injured themselves during an activity and of course, the thought is, if I was injured doing something, that’s what must have caused the injury.

However, I beg to differ.

I usually follow their question with other questions: Did you foam roll first? Did you stretch? Did you do any mobility work PRIOR to the activity? And 9 times out of 10, the answer is… NO. You see most of the time it isn’t the activity that caused the injury: it’s not being PREPARED for the activity that usually causes the injury.

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I want to review with you the top six strategies you can use to avoid getting injured when you workout.

1. Coffe and a Roll Every Day for Life

When I coach clients who want to make life changes, I always look to their daily routines and habits and see if it’s possible to make small changes, which, over time, will lead to big changes. One of the most effective ways for preventing injury is get yourself a foam roller and every morning, after you’ve made a nice hot cup of coffee, get on that roller for 5 to 10 minutes and roll out the prior day’s tightness and stress. This adds up over time and after a few weeks you’ll find you don’t make as much noise when you are getting down to or up from the ground. You know what I mean…

2. Change It Up

It’s been known for quite some time now that repetitive motion can cause overuse injuries. Running is such activity and so is cycling (although cycling involves much less pounding and the option of changing body positions). The same goes for sitting, working on the computer, etc. So if health and fitness is your goal, why would you repeat the same activities every day? My suggestion is if you cycle on Monday, do strength training on Tuesday, and maybe yoga or Pilates on Wednesday. Everyone now knows cross training is one the best ways to get results and even more importantly, stay injury free.

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3. Prepare Your Body Before You Work Out

Do you really think jumping into any workout is a good idea after you spent the last 15 minutes sitting in your car? All of our workouts do have “warm ups” in them, but they are not specific to each individual’s need. Maybe your hips are tight, or your calves… maybe it’s a shoulder thing (or all three)? Taking 10 minutes to prepare your body for your workout goes a long, long way to staying injury free. Especially if you know what your body needs. When you get into the club, get off your phone and take a few more minutes to prepare your body for what you’re going to do!

4. Reset Your Body After Your Workout

So, now you’ve done a bit of rolling at home, you arrived early to the club and put a few more minutes into stretching exercises prior to class, you pushed yourself hard and now you run out and jump into your car. NOT GOOD. The blood from the large muscle groups has not had a chance to re-circulate, those warm muscles are lengthened out from exercising and feeling the stress and want to tighten up and shorten: this is the best time to stretch, open up the body, calm the muscle and recirculate the blood back to the rest of the body. If you have to leave early, take a few minutes to cool down and stretch. Better to leave five minutes earlier and get that stretch in than jump right back into the car.

5. Get Off Your Ass as Much as Possible the Rest of the Day

I know… I should say it in a nicer way… however, it’s SO important and so many still over look this simple habit, I want to emphasize once again its importance. You see after you’ve exercised, the second most important activity for staying injury free and healthy is to move. As much as you can and as often as possible. I am not talking about stressful movement, I’m talking about standing, walking, bending, lifting, and walking up some stairs… the usual stuff. Moving more not only helps you burn more calories, it’s good for your brain, your circulation and even your mood. Get off your butt everyday and move as much as you can. It’s life changing.

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6. Active Recovery and Rest

What do you mean recover and rest, you just said, “Get off my butt!”?   Yeah, I know, but after you’ve been active all day, or all week, it’s time to recover. Take a couple of days off, don’t cycle, don’t run, don’t lift a weight and just rest your body. For some of us (that means me too) this may be the most challenging thing to do. I like the term active rest and here’s why: because it’s still being active, but since you are not pushing yourself, you are still able to recover. You’re allowing your body to adapt to the changes you want when you push yourself, but the only way to do that is to allow yourself to recover. More is NOT better when it comes to exercising.

So sleep, take a nap, meditate, talk a walk in nature, chill out… and allow your body to heal, recover and adapt. You’ll see more changes and better results when you do this on a consistent basis. Prep your body, cool it down after pushing it and then change things up… and continue to create the lifetime habits that keep you injury free so you are able to move more and feel better… because at the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Phil Dozois, Owner, Breakthru Fitness

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Featured photo credit: Adobe Stock via stock.adobe.com

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Phil Dozois

Performance Enhancement Specialist, Training Club Owner

6 Ways to Avoid Injuries When Working Out

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Last Updated on January 5, 2021

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

Starting a journey with fitness goals is never easy, and you must remember this is not a crash diet; it is a lifestyle. Don’t panic and think you have to do it all at once, as this will most likely overwhelm you. You may also find yourself giving up because crash diets are not sustainable.

The best approach is to make simple changes to your daily habits, and over time, you will notice all your bad habits have turned into good ones.

Accordingly to a study by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behavior becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.[1] And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

Here are 15 fitness goals to help you on your journey:

1. Drink More Water

W.H. Auden said it best when he said,

“Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.”

With any diet, the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking water will support your body with digestion, transporting nutrients to your bones and muscles, and even improving cognitive function.

Ideally, you want to drink about half your body weight in ounces per day, i.e. if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

2. Add Some Lemon and Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Water

It is recommended we sleep for about 8 hours a day, but this means we spend about 8 hours per day dehydrated. Therefore, hydrating your body first thing in the morning is absolutely necessary.

The best way to achieve hydration is by starting your day with a glass or even two of water. For that extra boost, add lemon juice and ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. The lemon and apple cider vinegar will help your body with detoxifying, cleansing, and digestion.

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3. Stop Drinking Your Calories

Yes, keeping hydrated is important, but try to avoid high-calorie drinks, such as soft drinks, specialty coffee, and juices as they are full of fast-acting sugar.

Really push yourself to stop drinking such drinks, and before you know it, you will notice the benefits.

4. Start Stretching More Often

The benefits are vast and the repercussions of failing to stretch can be dramatic.

Do yourself a favor and always stretch before and after a workout. This will promote a healthy cool down, improve flexibility, and reduce next day aches. Failure to stretch can lead to injures and muscle damage.

Here’re some simple stretching exercises to get you started: 15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

5. Add in Some High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

You may have heard about HIIT training because it is the big thing right now, and believe me when I say that it works and should absolutely be included in your fitness goals.

The benefits include lower body fat, increased stamina, leaner muscles, and fantastic hormonal benefits.

HIIT is where you perform an intense exercise for a very short time frame (about 30 seconds), followed by a slower exercise for about 90 seconds.

Performing a HIIT routine for 1-3 times a week will lead to great results.

6. Focus on Your Breathing When You Work Out

For the most part, breathing is second nature, but when exercising, you may find yourself holding your breath, and this can have negative consequences.

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It is important to consciously take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, as this will fill your lungs with oxygen and give you the necessary energy to continue your workout.

7. Build More Lean Muscle

We all want to have lean muscles. Not only does it look good, but it also has great health benefits, including:

  • Improved posture
  • Reduced body fat
  • Improved metabolism
  • Strong bones
  • Protects and improves joint health
  • Improved stamina

You can build lean muscle by lifting weights or through other specific exercises. Learn more about building muscle in this guide: How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

8. Decrease Body Fat

This may seem like an obvious one, but it is one of the most important steps to a healthier you. Reducing your body fat has a lot of benefits such as:

  • Improved joints and tendons
  • Lowered risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better performance and endurance
  • Improved appearance and confidence
  • Better hormonal profiles in your body

Remember, it is not a race to see how quickly you can decrease your body fat. Healthy weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week for your fitness goals.[2]

Crash dieting or pushing yourself too much in the gym can lead to you achieving an unrealistic target, and you may find yourself gaining all the weight you have lost.

Think of it as a lifestyle, and take it slow and steady.

9. Eat More Greens

What you eat is the most important factor in a healthier living plan. It is important to ensure you are getting as many nutrients and vitamins from the food you are eating as possible.

Focus on dark, leafy greens, as they will provide you with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants—all of which you body needs!

Don’t forget to avoid processed and manufactured food. They are usually high in fat and have minimal vitamins.

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10. Start Eliminating Sugar

Another top goal you can start immediately is reducing the amount of sugar you consume. It also won’t cost you anything, and will save you money and improve your health in the long run.

There’s no surprise we eat too much sugar, and this should be one of your top fitness goals moving forward. Cutting out liquid calories is a great way to start. If you’re looking for something sweet, turn to fruits or even dark chocolate.

Be careful to eliminate sugar from your diet slowly. Cutting it out all at once can cause symptoms of sugar withdrawal, which can drive you back to sugary snacks[3].

Common symptoms of sugar withdrawal

    11. Allow Yourself to Rest and Recover

    The workout is where you go to break down muscle tissue, and it builds back through proper nutrition, rest, and recovery[4]. It might be tempting to go to the gym for two hours every day as hard as you can to achieve your goals, but that’s not the most effective approach.

    If you don’t allow for proper rest and recovery, it can set you back a few steps. Your body is more prone to injury and even illness as you can weaken your immune system from all the progressive intensity the body is facing.

    12. Get More Sleep

    When you are deprived of sleep, you make it next to impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals. Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones in your body, and over time these can lead to inflammation and chronic diseases.[5]

    Make sleep a priority to let your body heal and rejuvenate. A good approach is 7 to 8 hours. Also, allow yourself some wind-down time and a pre-bed routine to help get more consistent sleep every night.

    13. Focus on the Habit, Not the Result

    It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve a certain look or shed time off of your mile, but the more important focus is on the habit that will bring you closer to those fitness goals.

    Don’t look at the scale, the tape measurer, or the body fat percentage. Focus on the habits that will lead to those achievements.

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    Don’t compare yourself to where others are; you’re right where you need to be.

    14. Take Your Fitness Outside

    This may be hard depending on the weather you experience, but the more you can be outside exposed to fresh air and sunlight, the better.

    Being stuck in the gym doing cardio while staring at a wall won’t do much for your mental stimulation.

    Try to challenge your body more by getting outside. Hiking is great and also just running and walking. Give yourself more access to nature and a constantly changing environment. It also beats breathing in that recycled gym air.

    15. Do at Least One Pull Up

    This is a great last goal to focus on because it’s a great test of strength and to see how you are progressing with your fitness.

    If you haven’t been able to do one, you know what a challenge it can be. Having the goal of doing at least one pull up will not only show you how far you’ve progressed, but it is a great way to become dedicated and motivated.

    The Bottom Line

    These fitness goals will become more attainable through the year if you’re consistent with your fitness. Set yourself a concrete timeline for when you want to accomplish some or all of these in order to create realistic goals in the short term. In fact, start making one of these goals happen this month!

    More on Setting Fitness Goals

    Featured photo credit: Ivan Torres via unsplash.com

    Reference

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