Without your health, you don’t have much. My mother always said this to me and I have learned over the years how true it is. Even if I have healthy eating habits, exercise regularly, live in a mansion and have loads of money, what happens if I lose my health? You can’t work, or work is hindered, your family time isn’t what it used to be, your hobbies may not be doable; life sure isn’t the same when you are injured. So let’s try to prevent injuries by a few simple things:
1.Perform a dynamic warm-up.
If you take classes at SOF we always do a dynamic warm-up. That doesn’t mean that you always put your best foot forward. Focusing on each movement we do and trying to do it perfect will help you prevent injury. For example, if we ask you to do lunges, do an actual lunge, not a half-squat, kind-of-putting- the-knee-through-flexion. Get those hips, knees, and ankles bending! It releases synovial fluid, which lubricates your joints, making them ready for strenuous movement. If you work out on your own, make sure you are warming up the whole body even if you are only doing back and biceps that day. Raising your core temperature (which will be done quicker if you incorporate more muscles) has been shown to prevent injuries because muscles are more resilient and elastic. Dynamic movements also get the mind prepped for exercise; get excited for your workout!! Static stretching should be left to after the workout, as it tells your body to relax and cool down. Here is a typical dynamic warmup at State of Fitness:
2. Practice unilateral movements.
Unilateral movements, or using one limb, can greatly strengthen muscles, known as the prime movers, stabilizers, and neutralizers. . It can also point out our weaknesses. If you are always doing a seated cable row, you may want to try out a single arm bent over dumbbell row. Why? Because you may be using your ‘strong arm’ to do the most work, or your shoulder stabilizers on your left aren’t as strong as your right, or you may let another compensatory muscle do the work instead of what we actually want. You also will incorporate different postural positions.
3. Increase in weight, repetitions, and time GRADUALLY.
Would you go grab the big orange kettlebell to LEARN a kettlebell swing? Probably not (well, I hope not-it’s over 70 pounds!). Therefore, perfect the exercise before you add resistance into the picture. For example, if you cannot do a proper forward lunge, focus on mastering the squat, reverse lunge, and then forward lunge before you add two dumbbells by your side. Then this will allow your body to learn the correct movement patterns that require mobility before you start making your muscles learn stability if you had a weight with you.