Workout injuries have brought even the best laid fitness plans to a complete standstill. While they are very common among people who are just starting their new exercise programs, the hard truth is that these injuries can happen to anyone. Be it the excited and enthusiastic new gym member or the long-time and highly experienced fitness expert, anyone who works out is at risk of workout injuries. Thus, no one is exempt from the best practices and special safety precautions that need to be taken before, during, and after workout sessions.
Some of the most common workout injuries include pulled and strained muscles, sprained ankles, and joint injuries in the knees and shoulders. Fortunately, these can be easily avoided by following the steps below.
- Consult with the experts.
Any workout regimen should be consulted with either a doctor or a fitness expert (or both). A doctor’s consultation can help reveal which problem areas the exercise program should focus on, whereas a consultation with a fitness expert can help in the proper selection of workout activities to address specific problems, needs, or goals. For example, a person who is at risk of [arthritis](http://www.docdoc.com/info/condition/arthritis) in the knees will want to build up leg and knee strength. A doctor can help pinpoint such problems, while a fitness expert can suggest the best activities to do and help create a safe, realistic, but effective workout regimen.
- Understand the importance of warming up.
All workout sessions should begin with a warm-up. The purpose of a warm-up is to help the body get ready for the physical strain of exercise. It works by slowly and safely increasing a person’s heart rate. It also loosens the joints and muscles to prevent them from getting pulled or strained. Warming up prior to exercising is as easy as jogging in place for 5 to 10 minutes or simply riding an exercise bike.
- Always cool down after a workout.
Each workout session should always be followed by a cooling down period, during which the person’s heart rate slowly goes back to normal. Instead of immediately resting after an intense workout period, a person can simply walk around for 5 to 10 minutes to get the heart rate down.
- Stretching always helps.
Before putting some stress on joints and muscles, it helps to increase their flexibility first to prevent injuries. The most effective way to do so is to do some dynamic stretching before a workout, preferably after a quick warm up.
Also, to build up the flexibility of the muscles and joints over time, it is best to do some stretching as well after the cool down period.
- Work your way up slowly but surely.
When beginning an exercise program, it is best to ease gently into the regimen. Start with a mild and less physically demanding program, then build up the intensity of the exercises slowly as you go along. It also helps to start with shorter durations and fewer repetitions as the body slowly gathers strength and stamina. As fitness level and experience increases, the body will be able to safely handle greater durations and frequency of exercises.
- Keep it interesting.
It helps to add some variety to an exercise program. Varying workout activities not only help prevent burnouts, but it also guards against muscle overuse. By doing the same activities that require the same muscle movements, certain sets of muscles may become worn out and thus more likely to cause overuse as well as repetitive-use injuries. These injuries may include tendinitis or shin splints. On the other hand, by doing different types of physical activities on different days, all the muscles are equally used.
There are many different types of activities that can keep workouts non-repetitive. These include running, swimming, biking, or lifting weights, among so many others.