Following on from injury prevention tips part 1, which I hope you’ve already started to implemented, here are the final 5 tips.
Injury Prevention Tip 6 – Slow Down
Most people pay little or no attention to how quickly they raise and lower weights when they exercise, but if increased strength and size from the same amount of reps isn’t enough of a benefit there’s more. Slowing down the eccentric, lowering phase of the rep means that you don’t have to “catch” the weight when you lift again for the next, so there isn’t such an impact on your muscles and tendons. This also helps you maintain good form and technique and was one of the most important changes I made to my workouts for injury prevention.
Injury Prevention Tip 7 – Use A Foam Roller
If you don’t already own a foam roller, buy one. This cheap, easy to use piece of equipment is a great substitute for far more expensive massages. It can help with loosening tense and knotted areas as well as being an excellent addition to your warm up and cool down routine. Just 5 minutes spent on the muscles you’re about to train ensures that they’re ready for the exertion to come and a lot less likely to injure.
Injury Prevention Tip 8 – Inappropriate Weights
If you’re going to the gym to build muscle and strength then obviously you’re going to need to continually lift more than you have previously. But that doesn’t mean that if the most you’ve ever bench-pressed is 80kg you should suddenly add an extra 20kg because you want to beat your training partner or impress the new girl. Or even just because you’re feeling strong today. Such a large increase is going to result in a poorly executed exercise, bounced of the chest to add a bit of momentum, and more than likely a damaged rotator cuff or pectoral. Instead your gym will have 2.5kg plates or maybe even 1.25kg. Use them. A small increase each week is better than no increase for the next month because you’re home with an injury.
Injury Prevention Tip 9 – Focus
The gym can be a great place to socialise with like-minded people, who actually care that you’ve gained an inch on your bicep or just squatted twice your body weight. But if you hope to make any real progress you need a goal, which you’re not going to reach without it being the focus of your time in the gym. If you want to chat or spy on the aerobics class that’s fine, but do it before you start to train or after you’ve finished. Once your warm up begins that’s it. No distractions, no interruptions. Focus only on your workout and your technique. That way you won’t get careless and pickup an injury because you weren’t paying attention.
Injury Prevention Tip 10 – Don’t Train With An Injury
This one might sound obvious, but if you were to ask around the gym I guarantee you’d find at least one person training with an injury. Maybe even an injury to the same muscle they’re currently training. The thinking here seems to be, “I could rest it for a couple of weeks, but then I’ll lose what I’ve been training so hard for.”
Not only will training an injured muscle prolong it’s recovery time though, there’s a very good chance it will be made a lot worse which will take even longer to heal. Instead, rest the muscle, even if this means missing more than one body part such as an injured tricep affecting chest, shoulder and even back workouts. A few days later, depending on the seriousness of the injury, it’s time to start some gentle foam roller work to keep the muscle supple as it heals. I know how frustrating even a minor injury can be, but I’ve also learnt the hard way that missing a few workouts is short-term pain compared to the long-term gain of being healthy and fully recovered.
So that concludes my top 10 tips for injury prevention, which isn’t to say there aren’t many more. But just by reading the articles on this website you should have a sufficient understanding of what’s good and what’s bad for your body. If not, get in touch!
As always, any questions or feedback leave a comment below.