Have you ever been just into your first set of lateral raises and felt a pinching feeling? What about being halfway through your run and your knee starts to hurt? What do you do? Do you press through or stop?
There are very few of us that don't deal with injuries or niggles of some sort. So how can we prevent and manage injuries so that they don't stop us from living active lives? Here are some tips that I try to use in my training:
1) Listen to your intuition. You know your inner voice that speaks to you? Is it whispering or screaming at you? If something really hurts or the pain continues, it's best to stop. If you have a sharp pain or a pain that is very one sided, something is not right.
2) Keep tension on the muscle. Muscles support joints so you want to have tension on the muscle when you are training, you don't want to be just falling into your joints. You want to slowly lower into a squat, not just drop down and bounce out of the bottom. Keeping the tension on will strengthen the muscle and help to protect your joints.
3) Land softly. With HIIT and plyometric training all the rage it's easy to really hammer on your joints. Think of absorbing your landing (shock absorption!) throughout the movement. Bend at the joint and cushion the landing. If you have a joint or muscle injury that is bothering you then skip the power movements (jumping, explosive movements) until you have fully recovered.
4) Focus on the muscle that is working and the form -- Don't just go through the motions, know what muscle groups you are using and the proper form for the exercise. If you feel lower back pain, it's likely that your form is off or your back is compensating for other muscle groups that should be working. Be educated and start with a lighter weight until you have mastered the form.
5) Have a regular yoga or flexibility practice -- Having a regular yoga practice can not only keep you limber to help prevent injuries but it also provides more body awareness so that you become more attuned to what is working, what is tight, what is out of balance etc.
6) Take time off when you need it -- I can't stress enough how important it is to rest and heal when you have an injury. If you don't let an injury fully heal, it may keep cropping up and nagging at you or can put you out of commission for good.
7) Cross train and strength train. I'm always harping on my clients to cross train and to ensure that they are strength training. We need to build those muscles that are supporting those joints and instead of only participating in one mode of exercise that can cause overuse injuries and muscle imbalances, be sure to switch up your training. It can help to have a personal trainer assess your weaknesses and work with you to strengthen any lagging muscle groups.
I hope that these tips help you to keep injuries at bay and remind you to use your intuition and common sense when you want to push forward but know that you probably shouldn't.
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