Injuries seem to strike at the most inconvenient times. You’re finally settling into a solid fitness routine; then BAM, the wheels fall off. You’re aching, limping, swollen or bruised (maybe all 4), and your fitness routine gets put on the back burner. Fortunately, there are some simple exercises and rules to follow to (hopefully) keep you injury-free!
Rule #1: Avoid the Terrible Too’s
Nothing sets you up for trouble more than too much, too soon and too fast. Overworking your muscles and joints will add up over time, resulting in a not-so-pretty outcome. Your body needs quality R&R (rest & recovery) in order to adapt to changes in mileage increase and exercise frequency and intensity! Keep the changes subtle, allow plenty of time between changes for your body to adapt, and revel in your body’s capabilities!
Rule #2: Know the Difference Between Soreness & Pain
“No pain no gain”—a common mantra that’s been drilled into our minds and partly responsible for why we tend to push through pain when we really should rest. There’s a difference between typical aches/soreness and real, sharp pain that results in injury. If a certain pain is persistent, pay close attention...if it impedes your daily activity (walking, sitting down) or hurts for 2 straight days, take 2 days off to avoid the possibility of a more serious injury!
Rule #3: Cross-Train on the ‘Reg
1-2 days of cross-training per week is very beneficial for all physically active people. Cross-training forces you to engage muscles that you normally wouldn’t and alleviates some of the muscle strain your usual routine imposes on your body. The elliptical, rowing machine, stationary bike and swimming are great ways to stay in shape while giving your body a rest from your typical exercise.
Rule #4: Move First, Stretch Later
Despite what you learned in elementary school, don’t static stretch (holding a stretch while still) before running. Waiting to get your best stretching in after you run can be more beneficial because your muscles are already warm! Downward dog, lizard, half-pigeon and triangle are a few of my favorite yoga poses to treat myself to after a run!
Rule #5: Sweet Dreams!
Sleep is a precious time for your body to naturally heal. Adequate sleep is key to athletic performance and recovery! Sweet dreams!