The new year brings an exciting and renewed commitment to physical activity. Unfortunately, with this increased focus on fitness comes a higher number of sports and exercise related injuries. The top 5 injuries related to exercise include: sprains, strains, knee injuries, Achilles tendons tears, and pain along the shin bone (also known as shin splints). To keep yourself in the “game” of getting fit, here are a few tips that will help you stay safe as your exercise.
Warming Up. Some experts might describe the warm up routine for exercise as important as the work out itself. Long gone are the days of static stretching that people used to turn to for a warm up session. The recommended warm up includes a series of dynamic stretching and “foam rolling,” according to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM). Used by both weekend warriors and professional athletes, foam rolling involves using a foam roll to work over the sections of your body to aid muscle spindles that are overactive. Holding pressure on tender areas of the muscle with the foam roll leads to “self-myofascial release” or a relaxation of the muscle fiber. Follow it with a warm-up that increases your core body temperature (brisk walking, cycling for 5-10 minutes) and finish up with some dynamic movements that mirror the movements you will do in your workout. Adequate warm ups will help prevent most injuries when coupled with proper form and a thorough cool down period.
Hydrating. Make sure to get enough water in your system before, during and after a workout. Without proper fluids, your muscles may start to cramp which can increase workout recovery times. Make sure you have consumed at least 24 ounces of non-caffeinated fluid two hours prior to exercise, with an additional eight ounces about 15 minutes prior to the start of exercise. For every 15 minutes of exercise you should consume 8-10 more ounces. If you exercise longer than 90 minutes, you should switch to a sports drink with less than 8% carbohydrates.
Cooling Down. Just as you should warm up your body, it is equally important to cool your system back down. Taking 10 minutes to do a slow walk or cycle and engage in some light, static stretching will allow your muscles to start the recovery process safely. Remember when stretching to hold a position until a point of tension, but never pain. Static stretching should never involve a bounce and should always be down as part of a cool down and never a warm up. Refrain from any stretches that cause a rounding of the back, instead focusing on keeping good posture.
With these simple tips, you will stay safe as you start your exercise program. As with any new fitness routine, make sure that you have talked with your doctor to confirm that your routine is safe. If you need a physician referral or if you have any questions about your exercise routine, please contact Denton Regional Medical Center here.