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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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Published on March 8, 2019

How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

How Adding Flow Yoga to Your Workout Routine Boosts Your Gains

When we fall into a workout routine, our moves become automatic, and the body quickly adapts. This is called muscle memory.[1] While teaching your body how to properly execute squats, push-ups, or crunches is a benefit, overly relying on these moves to consistently grow gains won’t yield the kind of results you want. That’s because the muscles work in the same way every time.

Simply put, they’re not being “surprised,” so they get lazy.

Supplementing your routine with flow yoga is one way of surprising your muscles, especially if you are new to the yoga practice and have never tried the postures. It’s like taking a new road home when you drive, deviating from your usual route. Science has found that by doing so, you’re creating new neuropathways in your brain.[2] The same is done in your muscles when you try a new routine.

How is this done? Let’s dive right into it.

How Flow Yoga Boost Your Gains in Your Workout Routine

Think about your current workouts:

If you lift weights, you rely on external tools to engage your various muscle groups. Over time, your shoulders, legs, or biceps will come to expect the weighted plates or dumbbells, in the repetitive sequences that you remember.

In flow yoga, we use the body as the weight. Add gravity and hundreds of different postures and combinations, and you have a workout that uses the same muscle groups, but in many different ways.

A pose such as plank is a full-body workout, with every muscle engaged to keep the body in one long line. While it’s a stationary pose, it requires muscle control and activation, with no room for passivity.

    A Flow sequence, on the other hand, requires your muscle to switch from one pose to another swiftly, providing you with a more balanced and wholesome use of your major muscle groups.

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    Not only do these poses and routines re-energize the body in a refreshing way, they also allow you to learn something new, which is powerful for the mind.

    Bottom line? Complementing your exercise regimen with flow yoga is like hitting the shuffle button on your workouts, using your muscles in ways that “surprise” them, which in turn boost their growth and performance.

    Energizing Flow Yoga with Added Cardio

    Flow yoga is also known as “Vinyasa.”[3] In Sanskrit – the sacred language of the practice and its Indian roots – Vinyasa is roughly translated to “one breath, one movement.”

    This guideline, first and foremost, enhances your breathing, and teaches you how to go from our typical shallow, chest-only breathing, to a more deeper, belly-chest breath that uses the entire lung system.

    Not only is this beneficial for a myriad of healthcare reasons (combat allergies, eliminate toxins, reduce stress, ease anxiety), it also greatly impacts our muscles,[4] and therefore our workout.

    Flooding your muscles with rich oxygen will only keep them healthy, while the cardio benefit will get you warmed up to take on the more challenging postures in a flow yoga class. This prevents injuries and cramping.

    The best example of energizing cardio in flow yoga is the Sun Salutation sequence. Each pose is completed on an inhale or an exhale, until the sequence is finished. One full sequence may be repeated several times, encouraging you to take fuller and deeper breaths. The cycles warm up and loosen the body and prepare the muscles for stationary poses that are held longer.

    Here’s how to do a Sun Salutation Flow:

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    Due to the Sun Salutations, the muscles are not thrown into a challenging workout, but rather primed and prepared with energizing breath.

    Why is this important, you ask? Because happy muscles are warmed-up muscles.

    The Best Thing About Flow Yoga

    The best thing about practicing flow yoga? You’re building strength and flexibility.

    Strength and flexibility are like the Mecca of a wholesome workout routine. Before we get into why this is important, let’s break these two down individually to see how they stand up on their own:

    Meet Strong Stan

    Strong Stan is at the gym, doing bicep curls with massive dumbbells. His muscles have peaked in size, and he proudly displays them.

    While he loves to lift weights, Strong Stan often skips stretching or warm-ups. He just doesn’t see how that could help him continue his muscle gains, so he jumps right into a heavy workout.

    While it’s not evident to a passerby, Stan’s muscles are hurting. Without sufficient flexibility or deliberate stretching, Stan’s muscles are shortening and getting tighter. This eventually leads to joint injuries,[5] because un-stretched muscles have limited range of motion.

    Big muscles are a sure indicator of strength, but here’s the kicker – choosing not to prioritize flexibility will keep them inherently at risk.

    Meet Flexible Fiona

    Flexible Fiona is in a flow yoga class, easing herself into a backbend.[6] She effortlessly gets into the pose, and “hangs” out there for a few breaths while the teacher cues the class.

    Even though the teacher instructs the students to engage their glutes and be mindful that this is an active pose, Flexible Fiona opts otherwise, and relaxes into the posture by sacrificing the strength she ought to be building.

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    To many in the class, Fiona’s execution of the backbend would be a success – maybe even something to envy. However, what Fiona doesn’t realize is that her excessive flexibility is actually a detriment to her joints.[7]

    Flexibility has been defined as the “absolute range of motion” by Tony Gummerson, Martial Arts instructor. For people who are naturally flexible, that line of absolute range is often blurry and, in practice, overlooked.

    It’s very easy for Fiona to go above and beyond her range of motion, since her flexibility parameters are much wider than what Strong Stan may experience in a similar pose.

    Because she doesn’t feel the stretch in the same degree of motion as other students in class, Fiona has to push the envelope of her flexibility. This puts too much pressure on the joints that are already overworked, and it overstretches the muscles that are now prone to tearing.

    Your goal is to create muscle and joint balance and wholeness.

    What Strong Stan and Flexible Fiona have in common is that they’re both missing vital pieces of muscle awareness.

    In Stan’s case, heavy and tight muscles crave flexibility. Without it, not only would Stan hit a plateau in his gains because of a sure injury, but he would miss out on having the lean and toned muscles that we all want to have.

    In Fiona’s case, her overstretched muscles are not getting a workout at all. Rather, her excessive flexibility is resting on her joints, which leads to definite injury.

    So what can you do? It’s quite simple.

    You have to give your muscles the opposite of what they’re used to.

    If you’re a Stan and hate stretching, focusing on your flexibility is key. You will lengthen your tight muscles, and you’ll create new muscle memory by practicing routines that are new to you and your muscle groups.

    If you’re a Fiona and hate strengthening, focusing on this priority is vital. Your muscles are used to being passive as you stretch, so shaking up the usual and putting them to work will not only keep you injury-free, but that much closer to the muscle gains you’ve been looking for.

    Fortunately, flow yoga is the whole package, and can be the one-stop-shop for both Stan and Fiona.

      Final Thoughts

      If you’re serious about using flow yoga to supplement your workout routine to boost gains, sign up for a class at your local gym or yoga studio. There are a number of styles of yoga to try, but as we’ve discussed in this article, the Vinyasa style is your best bet to complement a moderate exercise regimen.

      Many studios offer beginner-style Vinyasa classes, where the instructor will explain the basics, and break down the sequences in a pace that is suitable for entry-level students. From here, the student can build upon their practice, and opt for more challenging, fast-paced classes, such as Power Flow or Ashtanga.

      Working out is a lesson in teaching your muscles. The gains that we grow are the result of that experience, and it all comes down to conditioning our body in a way that is healthy, efficient, and balanced.

      With a practice like flow yoga, we can offer supplemental training to our current regimen that will work our muscles in ways that are new, refreshing, and “surprising.” This method will keep our muscles toned and lean, as long as we prioritize the balance between strength and flexibility to ensure that we’re meeting both of these needs. Our muscle gains and body health depend on it.

      More Resources About Yoga and Fitness

      Featured photo credit: Edit Sztazics via unsplash.com

      Reference

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