There are many ways to avoid injuries during exercise, but these 10 tips cover the basics of injury prevention. If you are new to exercise, or changing your exercise routine, these tips will help reduce your risk of suffering a preventable sports injury.
- Have a Routine Physical / Fitness Test.
Visit you doctor before beginning a new exercise program. Any new activity can stress your body. If you have undiagnosed heart disease or other conditions, you should modify your exercise accordingly. Your doctor can let you know what your limits might be and suggest an appropriate amount of exercise for you.
- Gradually Increase Time and Intensity.
When starting an exercise program, many people have lots of enthusiasm initially, and go too hard, too soon. Begin with moderate exercise of about 20 minutes, 3 times a week and gradually build upon this. You can also use the perceived exertion scale to determine the best exercise intensity for you.
- Visit a Personal Trainer.
If you just don't know what to do or where to begin, a good trainer will get you started safely and help you learn enough to work out on your own if you choose. A few initial sessions may be all you need.
- Warm Up Before Exercise
A proper, gradual warm up goes a long way to prevent injuries. The warm up can consist of walking, jogging or simply doing your regular activity at a snail's pace.
- Don't Workout on Empty.
While you don't want to exercise immediately after eating a large meal, eating about 2 hours before exercise can help fuel your exercise and help you avoid bonking during your workout.
- Drink Before You Exercise.
Dehydration can kill your performance, so stay well hydrated. Try to drink 16 oz. of water in the two hours before your workout and then take in water during your workout to replace any lost fluids.
- Listen to Your Body.
If you experience any sharp pain, weakness or light-headedness during exercise, pay attention. This is your body's signal that something is wrong and you should stop exercise. Pushing through acute pain is the fastest way to develop a severe or chronic injury. If you don't feel well, you should take some time off until your body heals.
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- Take Time for Rest and Recovery.
In addition to getting enough sleep, it is important to take some rest days. Working out too much for too long can lead to overtraining syndrome and possibly reduce your immunity.
- Cross Train.
In addition to helping reduce workout boredom, cross-training allows you to get a full body workout without overstressing certain muscle groups.
- Dress Properly for Your Sport.
This includes using appropriate safety equipment for your sport, choosing proper footwear, replacing running shoes as needed and weaing clothing that wicks sweat and helps keep you cool and dry. Read more about how to layer clothing for cold weather exercise.