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How to prevent exercise-related injuries

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Numerous frequent injuries can be avoided by implementing these seven basic tactics into your practice.

Exercise-related injuries are frequent in people of all ages, whether it's knee pain, a painful elbow, or a torn muscle. They have the potential to sabotage your fitness efforts, throwing you back weeks or even months.

Dr Beth Frates, clinical assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Harvard Medical School, adds that many of these injuries are preventable. She gives some recommendations below to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle and progress toward your fitness objectives.

1. Choosing a low-impact exercise is the first step. While no activity totally eliminates the danger of injury, doing a low-impact exercise that puts less strain on your joints makes it less likely that you'll be hurt. Dr Frates recommends walking, swimming, or indoor cycling as low-impact exercises. Contact sports such as football, ice hockey, basketball, or soccer pose the greatest risk of injury. However, injuries in high-impact, non-contact sports such as running are also common.


2. Select the appropriate footwear. Blisters, foot pain, and joint issues can occasionally be the result of wearing the incorrect footwear. Additionally, it's easy to get into trouble if your footwear does not fit properly. Make an attempt to match your footwear to your activities. If you're going for a run, for instance, consider sneakers with additional cushioning and support. If you're going on a hike, choose robust footwear that provides adequate traction and maintains your foot stability. Ankle sprains can occur as a result of poor form, mishaps, unsupportive footwear, or exercising on uneven ground, according to Dr Frates. Consult your physician if you are experiencing foot pain. She may advise you to have custom orthotics or shoe inserts made.

3. Begin slowly and steadily. Any new fitness routine should be initiated gradually. If you're strength training, begin with a lightweight and gradually increase it as you gain strength. The same is true for cardiovascular exercise. "Add time first, then frequency, and finally gradually increase the intensity," Dr Frates explains. Too much, too quickly can be more detrimental than beneficial.

4. Relax. Dr Frates advises against jumping straight off the sofa and into a high-intensity workout. Allow time for your body to acclimate by conducting a brief 5-minute warm-up. "The transition from inactive to vigorous activity is when you are most at risk for injury and heat stroke," she explains. At the conclusion of an exercise session, she recommends taking five minutes to gradually cool down.

5. Mix things up. Injuries might occur if you consistently engage in the same activity. For instance, someone who plays golf six days a week may be predisposed to a kind of tendinitis (inflammation or irritation of the tendons) known as medial epicondylitis – more commonly referred to as golfer's elbow. Similarly, other hobbies such as running and tennis frequently result in repetitive strain injuries. Tennis players frequently develop lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), and runners are prone to iliotibial band syndrome, which produces pain on the outside of the knee, according to Dr Frates. Rather than that, she suggests a cross-training method. Tennis is great, but so is walking, swimming, or yoga. This will not only protect you from repetitive strain injuries but will also benefit various body sections, which will boost your general fitness. "By including all four types of exercise — aerobic, strength training, balance training, and flexibility — you can help maintain a healthy physique," Dr Frates explains.

6. Check your form. Incorrect use of an exercise machine or weights might result in muscle or joint problems. Maintaining good body alignment while on a machine or during strength exercise might help you avoid injury. If you're beginning a new activity at your local gym, consult with an on-site trainer to ensure you're appropriately using the equipment, Frates advises. Additionally, check your form and body alignment in a mirror.


7. Fill up on liquids. Maintaining adequate hydration during exercise might help prevent dehydration-induced dizziness or unsteadiness, which can result in a fall. "Exercising when you are malnourished is also not recommended, since you will be weak and will have difficulty maintaining your equilibrium, which may result in damage," Dr Frates adds. Taking care of your general health enables you to get the rewards of your training.

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No content on this site, regardless of date, should be used to replace direct medical advice from your doctor or another trained practitioner.
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