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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 14, 2019

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone

From Atkins to Paleo to eating gluten-free despite not being one of the rare few people afflicted with celiac disease, fad diets are everywhere. It drives me crazy because I believe these diets do more harm than good. Your body is made up of a variety of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals, and losing weight healthily isn’t possible when you fill your body with unnecessary synthetic plastics, sugars, and powders. There’s no easy button in life.

What you need to do is exercise, which isn’t very appealing to many people. Workouts take work, so there’s already a stigma involved in going to the gym. Starting a healthy workout regimen becomes easier when you make it fun. If you want to live long and prosper, get off the couch and try these methods to turn your workout into a playout.

1. Take the scenic route.

Walking is an easy way to transition to a healthy lifestyle, and it’s free. Not only do you burn calories (check out this calculator for how many calories you burn based on your weight), but you see the world in a different way. Hiking in nature is great if you have access to it, but don’t let living in an urban area deter you from walking.

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Whenever I’m creatively stuck I get my head straight by walking a couple of miles. It’s also how I discover new paths, meet new people, and stumble upon hole-in-the-wall spots I never would have found otherwise. You could drive past the same place every day and never appreciate the beauty, nor even notice it’s there.

2. Distract yourself.

No matter what exercise routine you choose, use the time to meditate. You may wonder how marathon runners are able to put so many miles on their bodies. It’s because the pain from running that you avoid is something they’ve learned to harness to enter a transcendental state. If you’re aware of the benefits of meditation and exercise but don’t have time to do both, you can combine them, killing two birds with one healthy stone.

3. Listen to music or podcasts.

There are few experiences in life more pleasurable than turning up the music and drowning out the world around you. With so many podcasts and music apps available on your smartphone, you can easily find entertainment options perfectly suited to your personal tastes. Never worry what people may think of you when working out;instead, crank up the volume and get lost in your own world. You’ll be in shape before you know it.

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4. Bring a friend.

Some people can’t go anywhere alone. While I highly recommend dining out and seeing a movie in a theater alone, having company while exercising is very helpful. It allows you to pace yourself with someone else, and gives you a coach to motivate and push harder than you may have on your own.

Many exercises are safer when done with a friend, and some sports can only be played with another person. Involving others in your goals can mean the difference between success and failure. Just remember to continue exercising if the other person flakes, or they’ll be in control of your health.

5. Accessorize.

There are accessories that can make exercise easier, and sometimes buying a new toy can add some much-needed fun to your routine. With apps like RunKeeper and Nike+, your smartphone is capable of tracking your vitals and progress. Wrist weights can add a new dimension to your workout, and, if you exercise at night, a headlamp can help you see what’s in front of you so you don’t trip.

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For urban runners and power-walkers, one of the biggest obstacles is other people. It’s difficult to get in your meditative zone and enjoy your music when you constantly have to dodge people. To resolve this vexing issue, Runbell, a startup in Tokyo, has developed the runner’s version of the bicycle bell. With this lightweight brass bell warning people you’re approaching from behind, you’re free to maintain your transcendental state while continuing your workout. Head to their Kickstarter campaign to pledge your support.

6. Compete.

A little healthy competition can motivate you to push yourself further in your workout regimen. There are apps like Zombies, Run! which turns your run into a video game, and MyFitnessPal which allows you to connect with others in the exercise community. Whether you’re directly competing with a friend, an online community, or against your previous self, setting goals is the key to reaching them. Running with no destination can feel like an impossible task, and it’s easy to get distracted.

7. Relax.

The best part about exercising is how much you enjoy the downtime. If you think laying on your couch all day is enjoyable, it has nothing on that hour you spend as a couch potato after a rigorous workout. Jay-Z said it best, “in order to experience joy, you need pain.” The harder you push yourself while exercising, the better you’ll feel when you’re relaxing.

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With that said, don’t relax too much, or it loses the effect. It’s okay to indulge every so often. Treat yourself to some junk food you’re craving, imbibe a drink here and there, and spend a day vegging out on your couch. Staying healthy doesn’t have to be torture. Just turn down when you can and dedicate some time to better the health of your body. You only get one.

Featured photo credit: tpsdave via pixabay.com

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