With enthusiasm for a new resolution, it’s common to start January by running miles every day, jumping into a daily boot camp class or attacking a muscle group you aren’t used to exercising. Regardless of your overall fitness level, this can quickly lead to injuries that may take months to heal, including tendinitis, muscle strains and stress fractures. Unfortunately, injuries due to exercise or exercise equipment are among the most common injuries seen in the ER, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
As you plan your goals for 2018, take some time to consider how to accomplish them safely. Some tips to keep you in the gym and out of the doctor’s office:
- Start simple. Learn the basics of warming up and stretching before you work out to avoid strains and sprains. Stretching is a easy way to warm up your body prior to exercise but it’s also a great way to get your body moving if you haven’t been active in years.
- Choose a lower-impact activity, such as an elliptical machine, bicycle or water exercise, if you haven’t been exercising regularly. Swimming is also an amazing full-body workout that has a low impact on joints and bones. Many gyms have pools or water aerobics classes which are a great alternative if you’re looking for a group class to join.
- Plan to work out just three days a week. You should take several months to ramp up to more frequent exercise, longer aerobic activities or more impactful workouts such as running and weight training.
- Remember: Pain may not be gain. Whether you’re just starting a workout routine or branching out into a new style of exercise, you don’t want to be in pain early on. If you listen to your body and rest when you are in pain, you could prevent a more serious injury. You need to build up muscle endurance and strength before the soreness will be a healthy measure of building muscle.
- Poor form quickly causes injury. Improper technique can be a result of training on your own — learning a new exercise from workout videos, for example — or pushing your muscles past the point of fatigue and forcing other muscles to compensate. Unfortunately, this often causes an injury. We recommend carefully listening to your body and stopping an exercise when you notice your form deteriorating. If you are learning a new exercise — from yoga to weight training to an elliptical machine — the safest plan is to go to a class or use a trainer at first to ensure proper technique.
- Enjoy the process. Realizing that your fitness results won’t be immediate are important for staying motivated after the first few weeks of working out. Try to see the bigger picture of being active which is appreciating and taking care of your body in the best way.
Do you have any tips for people who are exercising more for their ew years goals? Drop a comment below with your best advice!