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By Elizabeth Wolfe

Important steps to avoid exercise injuries

Frustrating and sometimes career-ending, sport- and exercise-related injuries can happen to anyone. Regardless of your experience or fitness level, it is crucial to your well-being that you follow certain precautions when exercising. Engaging in prevention measures, understanding how exercise-related injuries happen and knowing which common injuries occur most often will set you on your way to a safe and healthy routine.

How exercise injuries happen

  • Overworking or over-stressing muscles. Continually targeting a specific set of muscles day after day can lead to over-stressing those muscles. When you exercise a specific zone you are essentially ripping a muscle group so it will grow back in a stronger form. The muscle needs time to heal and build itself back up with the nutrients you provide through diet.
  • Incorrect posture, extension and movement all play a large role in engaging specific muscle groups. If these three major elements are executed improperly not only could you be cheating yourself but you could also be harming your body.
  • Going beyond what your body is capable of doing. Not listening to what your body is telling you or ignoring physical health limitations can be dangerous. Going against your known physical limits can be done safely but if you engage in pushing your body too vigorously it can lead to injury, illness and even death.

Measures to ensure a safe workout

  • Talk to your doctor. Always check with a health professional before starting a new exercise routine. Take time to discuss your physical boundaries with your doctor and ask if they can offer solutions to achieving your fitness goals. Always follow their advice.
  • Collaborate a routine with a fitness instructor. Focus on how to engage in specific movements and address proper posture and extension while the instructor is working with you. The fitness instructor will be able to offer guidance on what a healthy weekly fitness routine should look and feel like.
  • Always warm-up and cool down. Pre-workout should be a time to warm and engage the muscles; think of it as showing your body what the agenda is for this workout. Negligence in completing cool down is one of the most common mistakes. Coming to an abrupt halt is never a good thing especially for your body; give your body a chance to cool down with a 5-minute post workout.
  • Make rest days stretch days. Improving flexibility on a rest day is a great way to engage your muscles while at rest. Floor stretching and light yoga are great ways to improve flexibility at a slow, restful pace.
  • Give your body the nutrients it needs. Make sure to fuel your body with a balanced diet and lots of water.
  • Don't overdue a good thing. Do what you, your doctor and fitness instructor have discussed and set in place for you. Pace yourself and be cautious of what your body is telling you. You can push yourself but do so at a comfortable pace.

Common exercise injuries

  • Sprained or injured joints
  • Tendinitis
  • Shin splints
  • Muscle pulls and strain
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