Having an injury is VERY annoying as you usually have to take some time off from your training, and your fitness level inevitably slips. By adopting the following simple common-sense tips, you should be able to avoid most injuries occurring.
1. Fully warm-up your body before you start each training session. You can warm-up by running at a moderate speed for about 5 minutes on the treadmill. This will promote blood flow to your muscles and tendons, increasing the flow of oxygen and nutrients, preparing them for your workout.
2. 100% concentration. Even a lapse of concentration for half a second can lead to an injury. Therefore, avoid training when you are too tired or distracted to fully concentrate. It simply isn’t worth it. You want to train in a calm and collected manner.
3. Make sure you have enough space to carry out your exercise safely. Watch out for other people in the gym, assume those around you are capable of doing anything and everything.
4. Keep good form with each exercise. Your focus should be on good form (technique) over the load (weight) you are lifting. Use a mirror to check your form if one is available. If you are not sure what good form is, employ a qualified personal trainer to teach you. Train with a competent spotter if the intensity of your training is high.
5. Ensure your exercise program is balanced. Balance your training by including all the main muscle groups. Also, prioritise stretching for tight muscles, and strengthening for weak muscles.
6. Increase your exercise level in small rather than big increments. Think of less than a 5% increase as a small increment. Listen to your body, what are you comfortably capable of? If something feels wrong, don’t do it.
7. Stop training immediately if you experience any pain, and treat even seemingly minor injuries very carefully to prevent them becoming a bigger problem.
8. Avoid overtraining. You always want to have some fuel left in your tank after each workout, so avoid training on empty. It is good to train for maximum of one hour. If you train for much longer your cortisol (a stress hormone) level can increase to the point where it starts to breakdown muscle, and it can make it more difficult for your body to repair in-between sessions.
9. Give your muscles enough rest in-between workouts, and have at least one exercise-free day a week. You want your muscles to be fully recovered and ready for the next workout.
10. Focus on your nutrition. Good nutrition is important to fuel your workout, and for repairing your body afterwards. Without adequate nutrients your body can struggle to fully repair. Each meal should include good quality protein, fat, and carbohydrate.
11 Ensure you are well hydrated. Joints rely on synovial fluids to help protect them, so if you are dehydrated this can easily lead to injury. Your muscles will also tend to cramp because of diminished electrolytes when dehydrated, which can affect your performance. Your urine should be a light straw colour, any darker is a sign of dehydration.
12 Get enough sleep. It is impossible to train well if you are tired as your concentration and energy levels are poor. This means you are more likely to get injured whilst training with sleep deprivation. Aim for 8-9 hours of sleep a night. The time you go to sleep is also important as your body focuses on physical repair from 10pm to 2am during sleep, so aim to get to bed by 10pm. This is important as you want your muscles, tendons and ligaments to be fully repaired before your next training session.