1. Warm up, cool down
The difference between being warm and warming up are not always obvious. The sweat pouring down your face doesn’t mean your muscles are warm, but most likely caused by the stress of the new environment, humidity or movement of a new exercise.
Ensure you set yourself up for success and stay injury free by warming up and cooling down effectively. A thorough warm up should be vigorous enough causing you to sweat without becoming out of breath. It should consist of stretching, walking, jogging or simply doing a range of exercises that incorporates the major muscle groups which you will be using in your workout routine or sporting game.
Cooling down should include stretching the major muscle groups which were exerted. Seeing as though your muscles will be warm, this will also increase your flexibility, promote circulation and lubricate the joints.
To get the most out of your cool down, you should;
- Perform each stretch slowly, holding it in position for up to 30 seconds
- Ease into each stretch. It should be comfortable and cause no discomfort
- Don’t bounce during a stretch. Relax into it and hold
2. Have the right gear
You don’t have to go out and buy expensive or popular workout gear to complete your workout at home, in the gym or outdoors. However, for your comfort and safety you should invest in the right gear and equipment for the activity you have chosen to perform.
If you are working out in an environment with experienced health and fitness professionals, don’t be shy and ask for their advice on what is best for you.
Not there yet? Start out with these necessity items:
- Athletic shoes appropriate for your level of activity. Are you walking or running? Choose a shoe which will have the right amount of support to avoid such injury as ankle sprains and broken toes
- Weather appropriate clothing. In warm weather, wear breathable and light fitted clothing which is able to release body heat. This will avoid you experiencing heat-related illnesses such as heat exhaustion. In cold weather, layer in clothing that is easy to remove once your body temperature rises, again, to avoid over-heating
- Necessary protective equipment. This may be as simple as a towel to lay on outdoors, avoiding insect bites and grass rashes. A helmet for cycling or reflective clothing and/or vest for running is also useful for outdoor fitness
3. Add variety
is common when you perform the same exercise over and over again. For example, runners continue to batter their knees, shins and feet causing stress fractures, stiff and sore joints and inflamed tendons and ligaments. Your body is smart and will adapt to an exercise, giving you less benefit from it as time goes on.
According to Harvard Health Publications
, the best exercise programs involve a mix of aerobic activity, strength training and stretching. A range of activities and movements can be incorporated into these three broad categories of exercise, helping you avoid overuse injury.
Dehydration will not only limit your performance, but it will promote injury.
The golden rule of thumb is to drink two glasses of water (500-750ml) before exercise and another two glasses after exercise. A quick sip of water or electrolytes every 15-20 minutes during exercise will help conquer thirst and keep you hydrated
5. Listen to your body
Hold off on exercise when you are sick or feeling very fatigued. If you still feel like you can do some form of exercise, cut back on the intensity and duration of your workout routine. If your muscles feel sore 12 to 24 hours after a workout, this is normal.
However if there is pain during, immediately after or up to a week or two later, it is recommended you rest and see a medical professional.
6. Good form is essential
This is particularly important for strength training. It is not about how many kilograms you are lifting or how many reps/sets you are pumping out, if your form is incorrect, injury will more than likely occur. If you are starting out, use no weight, or very light weight (barbell only) when learning the new range of exercises.
Never sacrifice good form for the race to complete the workout. Work your way up and set a goal, not only will it keep you injury
free, but it will keep you motivated too.
7. Had a rest? Drop your intensity
We all go through phases of exercising frequently, and then having a week or two off due to a busy lifestyle, lack of motivation or a holiday.
When you come back to your normal exercise routine, don’t expect to finish the workout in the same time and intensity as your last workout. Drop back a notch and ease back up to your optimal level. It may take a week or two to get back there, but you’ll do it injury free!
This article was supplied by Australia Wide First Aid
Australia Wide First Aid is a nationally recognised training organisation, providing the Australian community with accredited first aid training and quality first aid supplies. When you partner with Australia Wide First Aid, you can be confident that your first aid solutions will be delivered in a professional, efficient and friendly manner.