Keep Your New Year’s Resolution While Preventing Common Beginner’s Workout Injuries
January is here. Resolutions are in progress: the gym is packed, and everyone’s working on their fitness goals. Perhaps unsurprisingly, we often see quite a lot of workout-newbie injuries this time of year. Use these tips to prevent common beginner’s workout injuries and keep your fitness progress on track well into the New Year.
The truth is, most New Year’s resolutions go off track, but not because we just give up. Many fitness resolutions go off track because we get disrupted by an external factor like a muscle pull, a sprained ankle, or a sore knee.
But there are simple ways to prevent common beginner’s workout injuries and protect your mobility and your health. Like any successful goal, the key to hitting your fitness milestones is in planning and taking the right steps to set yourself up for success!
PREVENT COMMON BEGINNERS WORKOUT INJURIES WITH THESE IMPORTANT STEPS
Many of the most common workout injuries stem from an overzealous approach. Weekend warriors lace up their ten-year-old sneakers and hit the pavement for a two-mile run. Without stretching, training, or a steady buildup, an injury is practically inevitable.
There are several guidelines to help you avoid injuries when you start working out.
1. VISIT YOUR DOCTOR FIRST
Most of us believe we know our bodies and understand our limitations, but it’s essential to start a workout plan with the guidance of a physician. Getting a physical and basic bloodwork will help your doctor detect any invisible concerns or red flags. If you’re currently in physical therapy or have undergone orthopaedic surgery, consult with your medical professional to guide your plan.
When you visit your doctor or medical professional, write down your questions before your appointment. Making notes will ensure you remember your concerns and get them addressed. It’s not uncommon to experience a bit of anxiety when you walk into the exam room. Write down your questions when you feel calm, cool, and collected so you get the most out of your meeting.
2. GET PROPER SHOES AND EQUIPMENT
Once you’ve received your doctor’s blessing to begin a workout program, set yourself up for success by preventing common workout injuries with the right equipment. It’s tough to invest in expensive running sneakers, yoga straps, or spinning shoes if you aren’t sure you’re going to enjoy the activity, but look at the purchase as an investment and commitment to your resolution.
If possible, visit a shoe store in person to get fitted for supportive athletic shoes. There are even stores with personnel who will film your gait and recommend footwear to counterbalance any issues. For example, flat feet or weak glutes may cause extra strain on your knees. The right shoe will help you stride toward success.
3. FOLLOW TRAINING TIPS
Many gyms offer a session or two with a personal trainer when you sign up. If your gym offers this service, it’s helpful to work one-on-one with a guide for at least a few sessions. If you don’t know how to use a certain piece of equipment just ask!
Many common beginner’s workout injuries stem from improper form or a lack of experience with the equipment. You may think as a beginner, you don’t need someone to “pump you up” but getting a professional to show you the ropes and teach you correct form is an invaluable service. If you’re working with a physical therapist, they will guide you with the best movement for your body.
4. DON’T FORGET TO WARM UP AND COOL DOWN
Warming up and cooling down may seem like a pain at first, but it’s an important part of every workout. A proper warm-up will slowly increase your heart rate and prepare your muscles, tendons, and joints for more movement. Cool-down brings your heart rate back to a regular pace.
Stretching is also helpful. Dynamic stretches before and after your workout will keep you flexible and ready to move. While there is mixed data on stretching as an injury prevention strategy, it definitely feels good. Stretching will also help you connect with your body, slow down, and identify any areas that are sore or strained so you can treat them right away.
5. SLOWLY RAMP UP AND TAKE BREAKS
It’s tempting to go all out when you begin an exercise routine. Even if you’re following a training program or taking a class, you may feel eager to get to the “good stuff.” Don’t brush past the fundamentals or sign up for your first marathon in March. You need to take the time to train slowly.
Get your body used to the movement and give yourself plenty of recovery time. New exercisers often feel tempted to streak (working out consecutively for days in a row without a break). Failing to take a rest day is a recipe for injury. Give your body time to recover and your muscles time to rebuild by taking a day off in between each workout, especially at first.
6. CROSS-TRAIN TO AVOID OVERUSE INJURIES
Supplement your running with yoga, or your spin class with swimming. Cross-training helps your body use different muscle groups, allowing the other areas to recover in between use. Since you can’t target or spot-treat a specific area, it’s essential to look at exercise as a holistic activity.
Mix up your routine by switching up weight days with cardio. Take a dance class to offset kickboxing. Not only will cross training keep your entire body fit, injury-free, and healthy, but it will keep you from getting bored, burning out, or giving up on your resolution.
7. NOURISH AND CARE FOR YOUR BODY
When you’re first introducing your body to an exercise routine, it’s especially important to give yourself proper fuel. Nourish your body with healthy foods and a varied diet. Eat plenty of vegetables and lean protein to replenish your reserves.
Drink water and stay hydrated throughout your workouts. When you’re hungry or dehydrated, you might feel fatigued and foggy. It’s in this state of exhaustion and confusion that new exercisers often get injured—they’re not paying attention to cues from their body. Listen to your body and care for it.
8. KNOW YOUR LIMITS (AND DON’T PUSH THEM)
If you want to get in shape, you will need to get out of your comfort zone. But if you’re going to prevent common beginner’s workout injuries, don’t drift so far beyond your zone that you ignore your limitations. If something hurts, allow yourself time to heal and recover.
Many people get seriously injured because they push through the pain or tell themselves to ignore the signals sent out by the body. Always listen to your body and take it slow. Remember what they say—slow and steady wins the race!
If you want to keep your New Year’s resolution to get in shape, pace yourself. Avoid common beginner’s workout injuries by starting slow and building up your stamina. If you experience an injury or note a concern, we’re here to help assess your injury and decide on a course of treatment. Contact Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin to keep your body going strong for years to come.