Safe and consistent exercise is a crucial part of any healthy lifestyle, but how do you crank your fitness level up while preventing workout injury? Whether you’re new to the fitness game or an old hand at the gym, injury prevention is a key consideration when putting together your exercise plan. Read on for crucial tips on how to prevent workout injuries!

You’re Exercising, So What’s the Worry?

Often, people assume if they exercise they’re doing their job and are sure to see positive results. While this is true in some respects, an injury caused by exercise is a wake-up call that you’ve taken on too much, too fast. Simply put, the best workout routine is one you will do, and one you don’t get hurt doing, so you can keep coming back for more!

Exercise-related injuries are a common stumbling block for people who want to get fit. While they can be caused by numerous factors, there are a few common problems that frequently result in workout injuries. These include:

  • Pushing yourself too hard: It’s important to pace yourself. A slow-and-steady routine is better than butt-bustingly hard workout routines. Remember: an ideal workout practice involves listening to your body and tweaking your habits to achieve your fitness goals.
  • Lack of muscular strength and flexibility: If your muscles and connective tissues aren’t up to the challenge of dealing with your exercise routine, sprains, strains tears or breaks can take you out of the game while you recover.
  • Equipment problems: Wearing worn-out running or walking shoes can place unnecessary strain on your body. Similarly, if you are doing weight training with equipment that’s not matched to your fitness level, you can easily hurt yourself.
  • Improper technique: Proper form when you’re playing a sport, running or doing other physical activity is important. Yoga is a perfect example: while it can be great for strength and flexibility, doing yoga poses incorrectly or pushing yourself too far can cause harm.

Tips to Prevent Workout Injuries

Staying healthy and injury-free is not limited to taking a slow-and-steady approach to fitness. There are other things you can do to help keep exercise-related injuries from ruining your day, week or month. Here are a few top-drawer tips to stay safe:

Talk with the Doc

Before you adopt a workout routine, talk with your doctor or another medical professional who can assess your health and well-being across all dimensions. That includes your diet, current activity levels, health concerns, habits and lifestyle. Discuss with him or her what you want to achieve and get advice about the best kind of routine for your specific needs and goals. Remember, exercise-related injuries become more likely as you age, so you may have to scale back or take a different route to wellness than you did when you were a teenager.

Start Off Slowly

If you’re a fitness beginner, you might be tempted to dive in head first and push yourself too hard. You should eventually aim for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week, or 75 minutes of strength training. When you’re just starting out, however, try doing moderate exercise three days a week for 20 minutes at a time. Each week, increase the amount of time you work out and add in additional days until you develop the best routine for your needs and schedule. If you are doing strength training, start small, then gradually increase the weight/resistance on your exercise equipment by 10 percent each week.

Warm Up, Cool Down

When you exercise, it’s important to warm up and cool down. Warming up gives your muscles a chance to get limber, increases blood flow throughout your body and boosts your heart rate. Take about five minutes before and after your workout to walk briskly or do a slow and easy jog. Once you warm up, you can also stretch; stretching before you start your warmup won’t help because your muscles aren’t ready for it yet!

Be Consistent

Life is busy, and it can be hard to cram a workout into a day that’s already full. But you’re more likely to hurt yourself if you are inactive all week and try to do all your exercise on the weekend. To prevent workout injuries when you’re adopting a physical exercise plan, schedule time every day (or almost every day) to do something active, even if it’s just a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood.

Switch it Up

Doing the same activity over and over can also cause injury. High-impact exercises like jogging are particularly hard on your muscles and joints. To keep it safe (and more fun!), switch up your routine and make time to do activities that put less stress on your body. Swimming, biking and walking are all excellent choices for lower-impact exercise that’s less likely to result in an injury.

Take a Lesson

If you’re worried about proper technique, consider working with a personal trainer or a sports teacher who can set you on the path to success. Personal trainers offer a lot more than motivation: they are experts in injury prevention and can give you important tips on what you can do to stay safe while you exercise.

Listen to Your Body

If you feel overheated while exercising or experience any sharp pains, ringing in your ears, racing heart or breathlessness, stop immediately. For the most effective, best workout routine it’s essential to adopt an attitude toward exercise that puts your body’s needs first. Even if you’re gung-ho, paying attention to your body’s response to exercise is crucial for avoiding injury.

Stay Hydrated and Comfortable

During the two hours before you work out, drink at least 16 ounces of water. Keep the fluids coming while you exercise so you don’t get dehydrated. Also, it’s important to eat before you work out so you’re not running on empty. Ideally, you should have had a meal or at least a healthy snack within two hours of beginning your workout. But don’t eat a huge meal right before you work out!

Temperature regulation is important, too. If it’s chilly outside, dress appropriately so you’re not shivering cold or too hot. Wear layers so you can peel off the top layer if you need to and keep on trucking. If it’s extremely hot outside (as NC tends to get in the summertime), exercise indoors, work out early in the morning or hit up the pool for a swim.

By adopting these principles and practices, you can prevent workout injuries that might otherwise have long-lasting repercussions throughout your life.