The common notion “Exercising when you are injury prone increases your risk of further injury” is debatable. With so many views available, how do you make a choice?
As exercise strengthens weak muscles and improves the biomechanics of the human body, the chances of further injury are reduced; muscles and joints that are prone to injury are also strengthened in the process. However, an increased propensity for injury requires individuals to take precautionary measures and extra care to prevent pain from occurring.
Here’s what you can do to protect yourself from injury while exercising if you’re injury-prone:
Start with a physical assessment
If you’re starting a new regimen, insist on having a physical evaluation. Your body posture, movement, muscular endurance, body balance and gait are tested in the assessment to understand your body type and potential. This step is critical for injury-prone individuals as it allows the trainer to identify weak joints/muscles, allowing them to create an appropriate regimen.
Get a suitable exercise program design
Based on your physical assessment, a fitness coach will design an exercise regimen keeping your problem areas and health goals in mind. The ‘design’ will contain detailed advice on various aspects, including exercise frequency and exercise order (the order in which you should do the exercises). It will also cover aspects such as rest period (the duration of the break between exercises) and exercise volume (the intensity and duration of a workout). This program will take into account client weaknesses and injuries.
If you’re prone to injury, make sure you get a personalized exercise regimen designed by a professional fitness instructor. Never start on a one-size-fits-all workout routine, which can carry a high risk of injury.
A warm-up and cool-down routine is essential
My colleague Fitness Coach Meenakshi S says that injury-prone people need an extended warm-up period of 10 to 15 minutes of dynamic mobility exercises to raise their heart rate and lubricate their joints. This reduces the chances of injury and prevents shortness of breath during exercise.
While many people tend to skip a relaxation routine after a workout, neglecting it can be harmful, especially if you’re injury-prone. “A proper cool-down period that includes stretching helps the body relax and relieves pain,” says Meenakshi.
Make sure you get proper nutrition
Working on an empty stomach causes injuries. As Meenakshi says, “One should never exercise on an empty stomach as this leads to muscle pain and exhaustion.”
A good pre- and post-workout meal is essential. A pre-workout meal should be high in carbohydrates and low in fat and protein. It should be consumed at least 30-40 minutes before starting exercise. Bananas, oatmeal and peanut butter and toast are excellent pre-workout meals. A post-workout meal, on the other hand, should be high in protein and carbohydrates and should be eaten within 30 minutes of exercise.
Proper nutrition also varies depending on the type of injury you are susceptible to. As Meenakshi explains: “For example, if you are prone to bone damage or suffer from conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis or gout, a diet rich in calcium is recommended. Low-fat dairy products such as skim milk and yogurt, sesame seeds, and ragi are other examples of calcium-rich foods.
She adds that gout patients can increase their intake of foods like fruits, fish and soy, which contain anti-inflammatory properties. Broccoli, which contains an ingredient called Sulforaphane, may help osteoarthritis patients.
Meenakshi recommends a diet rich in protein, potassium and antioxidants for people prone to muscle damage. Whey, eggs and seafood are examples of protein-rich foods, while bananas are a rich source of potassium. “Pineapple contains an ingredient called bromelain that helps decrease pain and inflammation in the muscles,” says Meenakshi. “Walnuts, almonds, pistachios, flaxseeds, and chia seeds, which contain omega-3 fatty acids and ALA, are also helpful in managing muscle soreness.”
Proper hydration is another critical element of training. The lack of water in the body causes muscle cramps, among other things, leading to severe pain. Drink two glasses of water one hour before exercise and remember to drink 100-150 ml of water every 15-20 minutes during your training session. If you’re exercising outdoors or in hot weather for more than 45 minutes, hydrate with a sports drink that contains carbohydrates, sodium, and potassium. This will help replenish nutrients that are lost due to sweating.
Use proper equipment
Prone to knee injuries? Use a knee pad. Have an ankle injury? Exercise with an ankle brace. If you are aware of weak muscles/joints, which are susceptible to injury, you can prevent it by using proper equipment and taking appropriate measures.
For outdoor exercise, consider the weather and use proper equipment to avoid illness and injury. Your exercise track also makes a big difference. For example, if you’re training for a marathon on a dirt track in the countryside, you’ll need shoes different from those you normally wear indoors to keep you comfortable and prevent injury.
Choosing the right equipment for the right exercise environment will help you protect yourself from injury and minimize your chances of developing pain and aches from long periods of physical activity.
While the tips listed above can help you avoid injury, don’t hesitate to call a doctor if you think you need medical help. Above all, keep in touch with your fitness coach and keep him updated on your fitness and progress. If you experience any kind of discomfort, stop immediately and seek professional help.
Working with an experienced trainer can help you avoid exercise-related injuries. Connect with India’s best coaches here.
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