Avoiding injury is super important so you can aim for consistency and progress in your workouts to achieve the results you want.
As you work out it’s normal to experience sore muscles and muscle fatigue. During exercise, your muscles undergo micro-tears which afterwards, initiates the repair and strengthening of muscle fibres. It may be tempting to get straight back into working out the next day, even if you are sore (no pain, no gain, right?) so you get faster gains, but really, the risk outweighs the reward.
Already fatigued muscles can be overworked by prolonged motions or impact, resulting in inflamed or irritated joints and tissue. This is why it is so important to listen to your body! If you feel pain, you need to be able to recognise whether it is caused by sore muscles, or an underlying injury.
Ignoring pains or injuries like shin splints, knee problems, stress fractures, and tendonitis, could lead to more serious injury, which will limit your ability to return back to proper training for a prolonged period.
If you are just getting into training for the first time, or have returned to it after having a break, there are some simple things to remember to keep you safe from risking injury while you exercise.
1. Wear proper workout gear
What you wear matters – well in this case anyway. Your workout clothes should fit properly giving you room to move and allowing for proper circulation. Your shoes are most important as they need to give support and balance to your entire body, from your foot, up through your ankle, leg and hip. Without the right support from your shoes, injury can occur easily by shock of impact during exercise.
2. Don’t overdo it
If you’re not used to something, don’t go full throttle into it. Pushing yourself too hard will be a shock to your body, putting pressure on your muscles and joints. You need to give your body time to get stronger and faster. To see good results, it’s great to push yourself that little bit more, but please listen to your body and stop before you go too far. You can always start small, and progress to harder workouts as your body gets stronger.
3. Always warm up, cool down and stretch
It is all too tempting to try and save time and skip the warm up before starting your exercise, and when you finally push out that last set you want to just end it there without the cool down. I get it, you are busy, you have other things to do and places to be, but I cannot stress this enough – you will perform better, and recover faster, if you do a warm up and a cool down with stretching!
When you workout without a warm-up, your muscles will be stiff and your flexibility limited, making you prone to tears or pulls. Without a cool-down and stretching, your muscles will take longer to recover, making your next workout session harder to perform.
4. Stay hydrated
Water is necessary on a daily basis, but even more important when you work out. Hydrate your body with plenty of water, to prevent dizziness, cramping, and aches. When your body becomes dehydrated, you run the risk of injury as you will fatigue faster, you may get dizzy and off balance and fall, or your muscles will cramp up causing pain and a longer recovery period.
You do not need to work out, at a high intensity every day of the week to get results. Your body will in fact benefit from having a rest day here and there, to recover and allow our muscles to repair and grow. Without proper rest, you will be prone to overuse injury as you won’t be giving your body the time it needs to heal and strengthen. One to two rest days a week is important to include in your routine, along with a good night sleep, every night (!?). Avoid pushing for a PB with a lack of sleep from the night before. You will most certainly be in poor form and your fatigued muscles will be weak and at risk of injury to joints and tendons.