Our past two posts have dug into some critical recovery essentials—including that recovery is essential—but we’re backtracking to tackle recovery’s counterpart: prevention. More specifically, injury prevention.
No matter how minor the injury, we’d all rather prevent than treat at the end of the day. And the good news is, there’s a few simple, easy steps that can help prevent everything from joint inflammation to muscle sprains.
Think of stretching of as the magic exercise pill (and not the “flat tummy tea”). Stretching prior to a workout causes better circulation, improves your joint mobility and reduces muscle tension. How-to-stretch tip: Between dynamic stretching (stretching with movement) and static stretching (no movement), dynamic tends to be the favorite child as static stretching poses a bigger risk of overstretching if done longer than 1–2 minutes.
Just like stretching, warming up is critical for getting blood flow going, which will allow for better cardiovascular capacity during your workout. But warming up prior to a workout is also important for injury prevention as increasing body temperature makes your muscle less likely to be strained.
INCORPORATE MOBILITY WORK
If you have problem areas in your body where you frequently are prone to injury, make sure to train flexibility and mobility in the surrounding joints. For example, if you often find yourself having issues with one or both knees, aim for movements that increase mobility in your hips and ankles. Mobility exercises can be incorporated into your everyday workout or active recovery, as we discussed a few weeks ago. Consider adding Yoga, which focuses on strength and flexibility, or utilizing a TRX station, which can help support your body weight while sitting in stretches.
Excessive exercise can get in the way of any/all of the above prevention techniques and lead to injuries that way as well. Most are familiar with overuse injuries and how to treat them. Your body can’t heal, whether from normal exercise or from an existing injury, unless you give it time. Without prioritizing time for mobility work or continuously working out without stretching, an overuse injury is almost guaranteed. Outside of an overuse injury, other signs of overtraining include fatigue, irritability, insomnia and lack of appetite.
ADD IN GOOD FOODS
Food is essential in the fight against inflammation, a sneaky exercise injury few think about. But in fact, joint pain, for example, can be the result of inflammation; if or when joint tissue does not rebuild itself between workouts, it can become chronically inflamed and potentially lead to serious injury. To avoid this and other effects of excess inflammation, incorporate anti-inflammatory foods (e.g. fish) while reducing inflammatory foods (e.g. margarine).
For more helpful tricks, need-to-know knowledge and a burst of fun into your week, check back every Monday for a new Dynamic Blog!