One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to get back into the gym and work out, perhaps as part of an overall goal to lose weight or just be healthier overall. However, many of those resolutions can be quickly sidelined by injuries, and most of those can be prevented.
If you’re resolved to exercise more this year, here are some tips and tricks that will make sure your body is ready and stays injury-free.
Check with Your Doctor
The very first thing you should do before starting any workout routine is to check with your doctor. The primary reason is to make sure that you don’t have issues that could be made worse by working out. Heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and even chronic pain can keep you from working out.
Even if you have these conditions, your doctor may be able to suggest ways you can modify your workouts so you can still get some exercise without endangering your overall health.
Start Out Gradually
Another common mistake that causes injuries is to start out too enthusiastically. Not only can this cause injuries, but it can be discouraging as well. Going too hard in the gym when it has been a while since you worked out can leave you with overly sore muscles that need more rest, making you less likely to stick with a healthy routine.
Starting slowly is a much better plan. Consider hiring a personal trainer to evaluate where you are now, and to recommend what you should do to get started. Your body will thank you for it, and you will be less prone to injuries that can sideline you for a long time.
Learn the Right Techniques
Different exercise requires different techniques, and learning to do things the right way is extremely important. This is another reason for hiring a personal trainer. They can also assist you with any modifications your doctor may have recommended.
You might think that you don’t need to learn how to lift weights, but the wrong techniques can cause back and joint injuries that are extremely painful.
Warm Up First, Cool Down After
The two most important parts of your workout often come before you start, and after the workout is over. You should warm-up before you start, to get your muscles limber and your heart rate up.
- Start with some simple stretching.
- Do some light cardio for at least five minutes after you have stretched to get your heart pumping.
- Start with lighter weights and work your way up.
Just as important is what you do after you work out. You should stretch then too when your muscles are loser from the workout. This will make stretching the next time even easier. Cool down with some cardio as well, even if you have done a cardio workout so that your heart also has time to slow down and recover before you rest.
Be sure that you drink plenty of water during your workouts. This is important for several reasons.
- Hydration helps regulate your body temperature.
- Proper hydration keeps your muscles loose and prevents cramping, which can lead to injury.
- Being dehydrated reduces your performance.
- Dehydration can also make you less mentally alert.
Being less mentally sharp can also lead to injury when you do things you would not normally try, or you are not ready for in your workouts because you’re not thinking straight. It is crucial that you stay hydrated during the day, but especially when you are working out.
Vary Your Workouts
Doing the same exercise over and over can actually harm your body and cause injury. When one muscle group is weak, and smaller muscle groups close by have been strengthened by exercise, that imbalance can lead to serious injury.
Not to mention that doing the same workout over and over can be tedious, and when you’re bored, you are not paying as close attention to what is actually going on around you and with your body.
Don’t Forget Rest
It may seem like the harder you push, the more weight loss you will have more significant muscle gains. That isn’t true. You build muscle through working out and then resting so the tissue can heal and become stronger.
Not only will not resting make working out in the gym harder and reduce the benefits you receive, but it can lead to serious injury as well.
Get Regular Massage Therapy
You’ll find that many professional athletes and others who work out regularly also have a routine of regular massage therapy with a licensed chiropractor. The reason is simple: not only does massage therapy help work and relax your muscles, but your chiropractor can find and treat issues before they become a problem.
Regular chiropractic visits can result in stronger and more productive workouts, and can even prevent injury.
Don’t “Walk it Off.”
If you feel any back or joint pain when working out, or you do get injured, don’t try to “walk it off.” Instead, seek professional help right away. The older we get, the more likely it is that a simple injury can develop into chronic pain.
If you experience chronic or sharp back pain, joint pain, or even muscle pain and frequent cramps, schedule a chiropractic visit. The sooner you get checked out, the less likely your injury will be to develop into a chronic one.
Getting more exercise is an excellent resolution for nearly everyone. Avoiding injuries just ensures you can keep that resolution. Follow these steps, and if you feel any unusual pain in your workouts, get it checked out right away.