Preventing Exercise Injury

Preventing exercise injuries

A healthy weight loss diet can make you smaller, but only exercise will make you fit. But before you hoist those weights or lace up your running shoes, you may want to take time to plan a routine that avoids the most common pitfall to fitness success: exercise injuries.

Everyone who is physically active eventually suffers some type of injury. Some injuries are mild, such as muscle soreness, and a few days of rest are all that is needed to get you back in the game. However, a serious injury can take you out of action for weeks and lead to subsequent loss of hard-earned muscle and cardiovascular conditioning. The good news is that using common sense and listening to your body can prevent most injuries.

Following these simple guidelines will keep you safe and healthy:

• Take it easy. A beginning exerciser is most prone to injuries by doing too much, too soon. Follow the jogger’s adage: “start off slow and then taper off.” In other words, do not push yourself. When exercising, you should always be able to carry on a conversation (although you may choose not to!). 

• Cross train. Cross training means that a person does several different types of exercise (alternating running with swimming, for example) rather than sticking to the same routine day-in and day-out. Cross training can help balance muscle development and prevent overuse of muscle fibers.

• Take a day off. Every time we exercise, tiny muscle fibers are pulled and torn. This is how muscles eventually grow. But, without giving the muscle time off to heal, these constant tiny injuries can lead to permanent serious injury. Rest should be a part of every routine.

• Treat mild injuries at the first sign of trouble. This is where listening to your body comes in. Mild discomfort when exercising is common. It is a sign that muscles and bones are getting stronger and conditioning is improving. However, real pain should put up a red flag. Never, never “work through” severe pain.

Be sure to check with your doctor before exercising if you have a medical condition, such as arthritis or diabetes, and then get started!