There is a tendency to skip over warm ups to get right to business, however, your body really does need to be prepared for your workout, especially if you have been sitting all day. A warm up prepares your mind and body for what is ahead by increasing elasticity of muscles and ultimately reducing your risk of injury. An example of a good warm up is a 5 min. walk with an incline on the treadmill followed by 5 minutes of overall gentle stretching. Then EASE into your workout. Walking straight over to the squat rack and firing out 10 reps with a loaded up bar after sitting all day will eventually catch up with you, just don't do it.
Not using proper form is the fastest way to injury. Gym walls are lined with mirrors so you can watch yourself while you are lifting to make sure you are keeping good form. Here are some tips to remember:
- Keep your spine neutral when bending at your hips and never let your joints “lock.”
- Never swing your back while lifting weights, for example, while doing bicep curls; this is poor technique.
- Only move the body part you are working and in a controlled manner.
- Your low back is most vulnerable in a flexed forward position while twisting to the side. This is a common position I see lifters do while moving dumbbells or plates from the rack to the bench to the floor etc.
- Always lift with your knees, never with your back.
- Remember, slow and controlled, keeping your spine neutral. If an exercise hurts, stop! If the pain doesn't resolve right away, rest for a day or until the pain resolves, but do not push through pain.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Adopting the “No pain, no gain” philosophy is another avenue towards injury. It is not good to overexert yourself past your limit or lift excessively heavy weights. This causes stress and strain on muscles and tendons leading to pulls and tears. Lifting too heavy will also compromise form, which puts strain on your back. Gradually working your way up to harder/heavier workouts will build true strength and endurance. While weight training, it is critical that you be in tune with your body at all times. Pain induced by injury is different than pain produced by exertion.
STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE
Your core is a natural stabilizer of complex movements and a strong one will help prevent back injuries. Strengthening your core also helps with balance, stability, coordination and posture.
CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE
Doing the same workout day after day, is not only boring, it can lead to overuse injuries. Vary your workouts by modifying exercises, cross training, working only certain muscle groups on certain days or revamping your entire workout routine. For example: Cycle on day 1, weight train on day 2, run on day 3, weight train on day 4 etc.
DON’T SKIP THE COOL DOWN
A cool down makes all the difference, even if it is just for a few minutes. STRETCH and foam roll muscles that have been worked out as they may tighten up, increasing your risk of injury. Cooling down also helps regulate blood flow and bring your body back into balance.
I hope these simple reminders will help prevent gym related injuries. Everybody is different and what one person may need will differ from what another person needs. Bottom line, listen to your body and your body will thank you.
As a wife and mother of two active little boys, Dr. Taglio understands that life is busy and can easily get out of balance. She knows how important healthy habits are in maintaining a healthy family. She is committed to addressing the whole body and takes a multi-pronged approach to improving the function of the nervous system, by removing nerve interference through chiropractic, addressing nutritional components and incorporating neuromuscular re-education to maintain spinal health and stability. She has made it her mission to help people not only feel great, but also help them reach their highest potential, in whatever their endeavors are. She has a love for children and their healing through chiropractic and nutrition.