Health / Mobility

5 Expert Tips to Prevent Injury During Exercise

Ways to reduce your risk of experiencing an injury to keep up your exercise routine.

If you’re someone who exercises regularly, you know how important it is to your overall health, wellness and, likely, your sanity. Exercise is so beneficial in every way—mentally, physically and even emotionally. That’s why it can be quite devastating to experience an exercise injury that can cause you to have to halt or modify your routine.

How injuries can happen

In his practice, the most common cause of injuries Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., doctor of nutrition and owner of eatrightfitness, sees are a result of improper warm-ups and simply trying to exercise above your fitness level. “Typically doing resistance training moves, like Olympic lifts, without proper training, results in poor form and can quickly lead to injuries,” he explains. “Exercise injuries differ from other types of injuries in that they are specifically caused by physical activity and voluntary movement—other injuries can be caused by accidents, falls, or even just the result of picking something up with the wrong form.”

Exercise injuries aren’t reserved for exercise rookies—they can happen to anyone. “Our bodies are made for movement, but the bones and tissues are limited in how much they can move in each direction and these ranges of motion can differ from person to person,” explains Bill Daniels, C.S.C.S., C.P.T., founder of Beyond Fitness.

“If someone tries to move beyond their available range of motion, they will usually find that they can go no further, but when you add excessive load to these movements that force the joints and tissues to stretch in a way that they are not prepared for, you can end up with muscle pulls and ligament or tendon tears.” 

Luckily, there are ways to help reduce your risk of experiencing an exercise injury. Here are some expert-approved tips for preventing injury during exercise. 

Do the right kind of warm-up

Warming up before any exercise is important, but not all warm-ups are created equal, Dr. Adams points out. “If you are doing explosive movements in the gym, like Olympic or power lifts, then a dynamic warmup (lunges, bodyweight squats, push-ups, updog-downdog transitions, etc.) is likely your best bet,” he says.

“While static warm-ups, like stretching, may feel good, you can cause some soft tissue damage when stretching a cold muscle, so a brief walk or jog on the treadmill may suffice for a warm-up for your regular workouts.” He recommends doing an easy cardio-type warm-up for walking or jogging or a dynamic warm-up before your exercise to prevent injury. 

Pay attention to your technique and form

Once you’ve warmed up and started your workout, make sure you’re maintaining proper form and not just rushing through the process. “If you are sloppy with your form, you will put unnecessary and harmful stress on the joints and tissues which can cause damage and lead to long term injury,” warns Dr. Adams. “Focus on how your body feels and perform exercises with a mirror, if possible, so you can closely monitor your technique.”

Start slow

When you’re starting a new fitness routine, ease into it slowly. It takes time for your body to get used to new movements and levels of intensity. “Unfortunately, many think that because that person is doing the workout, then they can do the same and get in shape like them,” says Allen Conrad, B.S., D.C., C.S.C.S., owner of Montgomery County Chiropractic Center in North Wales, Pennsylvania. “Many exercise injuries are a result of this, as the exercise routine is too much for a beginner, or someone who hasn’t been working out regularly for a while.” He recommends identifying a proper achievable starting point to help avoid these setbacks. 

Incorporate rest days

One of the biggest culprits of an exercise injury is not taking the proper time off in between workouts. Not taking a day off every 4-5 days can place repeated stress on a particular part of your body without allowing enough time for rest and recovery, explains Dr. Adams. “Soft tissues like tendons, ligaments, and muscle can swell and even tear if not enough time is allowed for recovery,” he says. “Recovery should be a major part of any exerciser’s plan. If it isn’t, then injury from poor recovery and overuse will likely occur.”

Adequately hydrate 

When you are dehydrated, your muscle length during concentric and eccentric exercises may cause muscle shortening, warns Dr. Conrad, which can lead to an injury. “Maintaining proper hydration is one of the biggest problems new workout people have,” he says. He recommends aiming to drink at least 64 ounces of water each day and an extra 16 ounces following each workout that you perform.

Aaptiv has a lot of beginner program options for any one who wants to start a fitness program. To browse over 8,000 classes and programs search for a class in the Browse tab, find your new favorite class by searching by workout category, or find a structured program under “programs for you”.

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