Our body is a complex system of nerves, tendons, muscles and bones. When working together, it’s a beautiful thing. When threats of injury or, heaven forbid, injury occur, it can be a painful experience. The risk of injury increases with exercise. However, you can reduce your risk by avoiding common training pitfalls. Director of sports rehabilitation medicine at New York University’s Hospital for Joint Disease, Gerald Varlotta says, ‘Sometimes it’s a matter of doing the right activity too much or too often. Sometimes it’s a matter of doing the right activity wrong, or choosing the wrong activity for your particular body type.’ Below are a few tips to work smarter while avoiding common fitness injuries.
Not Considering Your Body
Although this may seem generic, we are talking gender and personal limitations. There are certain injuries that are specifically gender related. Varlotta reports that in general, ‘Men function better in activities requiring a rigid plane of motion- such as weight lifting, push ups, etc… Women, do better at activities requiring multiple or diagonal planes of motion, such as Pilates, stair stepper, cycling, etc…Women are also at greater risk for ACL injuries. Women should exert greater care when participating in exercises that require ‘twist and turn’ motions.’ Studies also show women are more prone to fitness injuries during monthly menstrual cycle due to increased looseness of joints. Awareness of these conditions can help deter potential injury.
Whatever type of exercise you do, be sure to warm up and take appropriate amounts of weight for your body. If new to weight training, begin with weights you can lift 8-12 reps and are able to complete three sets. When this begins to get easy, increase weight by 2%. Overestimating your strength will lead to improper technique and recruitment of auxiliary muscles, leading to higher risk of injury, says personal trainer, Alex Schroeder. The most common lifting mistake is using too much weight too quickly for too long with too much intensity. If you repeat a motion that puts strain on shoulder joints or that forces muscles to work in a misaligned way, injury will occur.
Incorrect technique can pull, rip or tear connective tissue quicker than a blink of the eye. This happens from an out of control barbell, or stress loading a limb. Be a perfectionist when it comes to respecting the integrity of correct posture during a routine. Either make the rep perfect, or lower the weight.
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