Lots of people eagerly begin a new exercise regimen only to find themselves on the wayside owing to a fitness injury within a short period of time. The vast majority of these injuries can be avoided with some preparation and careful technique. Let’s take a look at some things that you can do to avoid injuring yourself when exercising.
It is vital to warm up before each exercise session. Warming up helps prepare your cardiovascular system and body tissues for activity by raising your body temperature and increasing blood flow to your muscles. This ensures that your muscles and the tissues around them get adequate blood, oxygen, and nutrients to execute all necessary tasks required by the workout. Furthermore, warming up can help reduce muscle soreness and lessen your risk of injury.
By skipping the warm-up, no matter how tedious it may seem, you risk suffering from agonizing muscle rips and tears that will keep you out of the fitness game for weeks, if not months. This is the last thing that you want to happen if you are learning how to build muscle. It does not have to be a long warm-up; five to ten minutes of moving your limbs, light cardio such as easy running or skipping, or utilizing an elliptical, will get your body moving and serve as an appropriate warm-up.
You should stretch your muscles once you have completed your warm-up activity. This helps to boost your flexibility, allowing you to perform much better throughout your primary workout and lowering the danger of muscle injury. Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy. By being flexible, your joints maintain a full range of motion and your muscles avoid becoming shortened and tight. Lack of flexibility puts you at risk for joint pain, strains, and muscle damage.
In order to stretch properly, you should hold a stretch for 30 seconds and avoid bouncing, which can cause injury. Feeling tension during a stretch is normal, but feel pain is not. If you do, there may be an injury or tissue damage so stop stretching that muscle and talk to your doctor.
You should also stretch after your workout. Stretching your muscles while they’re still warm can help to reduce lactic acid buildup, muscle cramps, soreness, and stiffness. Stretching elongates the connective tissue around your joints, increasing mobility and helping you appear longer and slimmer, which is never a bad thing! All of these benefits work to improve your body’s overall function and flexibility, allowing you to feel better, perform at a higher level, and decrease the chance of injuries.
In the same way, a post-workout cool-down exercise is critical. This starts the recovery process by progressively cooling your body temperature, stabilizing your blood pressure, and lowering your heart and breathing rates. A proper cooldown keeps your blood circulating and prevents it from pooling in your veins, which can cause you to feel lightheaded or dizzy. Additionally, cooling down restores your muscles to their usual length and tension, and promotes relaxation.
You would not try driving a car without fuel, so do not try powering your body without water. Water is chemically the simplest, yet the most important nutrient in the body. Proper hydration is necessary for energy production, cell function, temperature control, the transportation of nutrients and oxygen, brain functioning, digestion, toxin and acidity removal, as well as for muscle health and performance.
In general, you should try to drink every day between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 75 to 150 ounces of water a day. But hydration shouldn’t only be based on your weight, you have to take into consideration different factors. Your body loses more fluids when physically active, sweating, in a hot climate, or have symptoms (running a fever or have diarrhea or vomiting). All water loss needs to be replaced to keep your body healthy and hydrated. If you are not sure if you’re properly hydrated, check the color of your pee. Healthy urine is semi-clear and a good indicator that you’re drinking plenty of water. At the same, keep in mind that feeling thirsty is an indication that your body is already dehydrating, so staying hydrated will help you avoid this.
Make sure to increase your water consumption when you exercise. Follow the hydration recommendations from The American Council on Exercise:
- Seventeen to 20 ounces of fluid, 2 to 3 hours before working out
- Another 8 ounces, 20 to 30 minutes before starting your workout
- Seven to 10 ounces, every 10 to 20 minutes while exercising
- Eight ounces post-workout
Watch Your Macros
The same idea that applies to hydration applies to your diet. You don’t fill up your vehicle’s tank with mud and sugar, you put premium gasoline so your vehicle operates as intended. Your body too needs to be fueled with nutrient-dense whole foods so it can perform at its best. Aim to have a diet with a balanced ratio of macronutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), as well as high amounts of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Your body’s performance and functionality are based on what you eat. Do not be afraid of carbs since they are essential for performance. Glucose is the primary source of energy and glycogen is the main energy fuel during exercise. When you eat carbs, your body releases insulin, which takes glucose from the blood for energy into the cells. When the body gets excess carbs, glucose molecules link together and produce longer units, called glycogen – glycogen is stored glucose. Your body can store about 1,600-2,800 calories of carbohydrates in the form of glycogen in your muscles, liver, red blood cells, and kidneys before it is converted to fat. On the other hand, you run out of glycogen stores when you don’t eat enough food or exercise intensely. When you are glycogen-depleted, your endurance at high-intensity activities and the duration of your training session are limited. One way to restore glycogen effectively is to eat carb-containing foods.
Another way to energize your body is by eating fats. When you don’t eat enough carbs and your glycogen stores are low, your body can use fat stores for fuel instead. High-fat diets, like the ketogenic diet (typically containing 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs), burn fat instead of glucose for fuel. This is a fat adaptation that causes a rise in ketones, which are produced in the liver from fatty acids. Ketones can provide energy in the absence of carbs, during fasting or prolong exercise. Gluconeogenesis, a process where the body breaks down fats and proteins converting them into glucose, is another way the body creates energy without carbs. Some people believe that low-carb diets can compromise your performance since quick glucose-based energy is not readily available. However, ketogenic diets have numerous benefits. They are great for fat loss and research has shown positive results in the treatment of diabetes, neurological diseases, cancer, and risk factors for heart and respiratory diseases.
Protein is also essential for your training. Proteins, large molecules consisting of amino acids, make every cell in your body and are the building block of muscle. Not eating enough protein can sabotage your training and your health. Since working out tears muscle fibers, protein consumption post-workout gets into the cells to repair and replace muscle tissue. Consume 1g of protein per pound of body weight per day spaced out every 2-3 hours if you want to achieve a lean muscular physique.
Another common cause of injuries is overtraining and not being fully rested. Signs of overtraining are muscle and joint pain, fatigue, low energy, and getting sick more often. Getting proper rest is just as important for your fitness progress as hitting all of your workouts. Rest days allow you to take a break from training and allow your body to recover. Then, your body can replenish its energy stores and repair muscle tissue. Allow at least one day a week for rest.
Another aspect to consider is your sleep. Getting enough sleep is critical for your recovery. If you are not sleeping long enough or deep enough, it’s a good idea to back off your workout intensity until you are well-rested. You’ll find that by taking time off and resting enough, you are more energized and your performance improves.
Wear the Right Gear
You run the risk of injuring not only your feet, but also your joints and muscles, if you try to run in shoes that are not made to be run in, or if you are using ones that are older and lost their stability. Assess your need for new sneakers and implement diverse tips for buying sneakers. In addition, make sure you have dressed appropriately for the weather, the type of exercise you are doing, and, most importantly, your comfort.
The easiest way to stay on the path of your fitness goals is by staying healthy. Avoid injuries by warming up, stretching, cooling down, staying hydrated, fueling your body properly, resting sufficiently, and dressing appropriately.
To a Healthier Fitter You,
The Fitness Wellness Mentor