Getting injured is one of the worst things that can happen when you’re working on an exercise program. Even worse than the physical pain is the mental anguish of being set back in your goal. I know from personal experience. When I was a year into my fitness journey, I suffered from serious knee pain from IT Band inflammation that kept me from running for about two months. It was frustrating to lose that fitness and to have to work my way back. When I did, I took steps to make sure that I strengthened that weakness so as to avoid the injury again.
When you begin exercising, you inherently increase your risk of injury. This shouldn’t deter you from an exercise program, as the benefits far outweigh the risks. However, by being aware of the risks, you can take steps to minimize the risk of getting injured.
- Do a proper warm up that is specific to the work out you’re doing. It’s not enough to just jump onto the exercise bike and pedal around for 5 minutes (unless you’re doing a leg specific work out). If you’re going to be doing an upper body work out, spend some time on the elliptical or row machine to warm up the upper body. If you’re going for a run, do a series of dynamic stretches and core exercises to prep your body for running.
- Make sure to stretch post-exercise. This is the time when your muscles are warmest and most pliable. Stretching improves your flexibility, and being more flexible can reduce your risk of muscle strains.
- Make sure to check your footwear. As I’ve written before, the right footwear make a big difference.
- Do exercises that strengthen your weaknesses. Earlier I mentioned my IT band issue. One of the things that helped me resolve it was by working on strengthening my quads on the leg extension machine. This helped strengthen and stabilize my knee, and over time I was no longer bothered by my IT band. Likewise, identify weaker parts of your body that might be more injury prone and work to strengthen them.
- No pain no gain is not a thing. Lastly, if you’re doing an exercise and it hurts – stop doing it! Do not work through pain. Give yourself time to rest and if the pain persists, see a doctor.