So, how are you doing with your New Year commitment to yourself to get fit and exercise more?
As well as keeping your promise to yourself to stick to a regular exercise regime, it’s worth stopping to think about how you might be able to prevent yourself from getting injured.
Workout injuries are all too common and they can happen to anyone, even those with good levels of fitness. But, by having an awareness of what can cause injuries and taking a few simple precautions, you can avoid having to halt your workout regime due to injury.
6 Tips for Avoiding Injury
Here are some of the most effective ways of exercising safely:
1. Do you need to consult your GP?
If you have a medical condition, if you are very unfit or if you are in your 40s and 50s, it is advisable to speak to your GP before embarking on an exercise regime. They will be able to advise you on the most suitable type of exercise for you and provide peace of mind that it is safe for you to workout.
2. Develop a warm-up and cool-down routine
Warming up your muscles before you start exercising can help prevent muscles strains, sprains and tears and gradually increase your heart rate. If you are working out in the gym, 5-10 minutes on the exercise bike can help to loosen up your muscles and joints. If you are running or walking, jogging for a few minutes or using a skipping rope can be effective. Cooling down for 5-10 minutes – for example, by walking or stretching – will reduce your heart rate gradually and improve muscle condition.
3. Build up steadily
A common cause of injury is increasing the intensity of exercise too quickly. When you start a new workout don’t try to do too much too soon. Build up your fitness slowly by gradually increasing the frequency, duration and intensity of your workout. As your fitness level improves you will naturally find yourself able to do more.
4. Listen to your body
It is very important that you listen to your body and notice if you are in pain or feeling exhausted. Pushing yourself to continue exercising if this is how you are feeling may result in injury. Learn to recognise the difference between your muscles, heart and lungs working hard and the sort of pain that could indicate an injury. If you are exhausted, stop and rest.
5. Keep hydrated
Your body needs plenty of fluid when you exercise as you lose fluid when you sweat. Try to drink water both before, during and after your workout. Also eat light healthy snacks containing protein and healthy carbs to replenish your energy after exercising.
6. Learn good technique
Although you don’t have to workout with a personal trainer, getting some professional instruction on how to use gym equipment, or good exercise technique can help you to avoid bad habits and may also prevent injury. A personal trainer or coach will also be able to help you set realistic goals.
What to do if you injure yourself
If you are unlucky enough to injure yourself through exercise, it is important to stop. Following the RICE method may help to relieve pain and swelling:
- Ice – but do not apply ice straight to unprotected skin
- Elevation – lifting the affected limb above the level of your heart
Here at W27 Diagnostics & Imaging, we frequently see exercise-related injuries such as pulled and strained muscles, torn muscles, ligament sprains (commonly around the knees and ankles) and tendonitis (often from overuse in the shoulder, elbow, knees and ankles). We offer a range of diagnostic tests and treatments, including:
- Ultrasound scan
- CT scan
- MRI scan
- Ultrasound-guided injections to relieve pain
- Diagnostic arthrogram injections
- Platelet-rich plasma injections
You can also watch one of our educational videos discussing specific treatments and what you can expect.
If you are injured and your injuries are not relieved by the RICE method it is important to get an accurate diagnosis. Failure to do so may result in further pain or worsening damage and it may take a lot longer to get back to your normal regime.