Despite our best intentions to improve our health or sporting performance through exercise in the gym, injuries unfortunately do occur. Minimising your injury risk should be one of the first points considered when planning how you will reach your goals!
Here are 3 tips to help get you through your fitness regime injury free!
1. Ensure good program design: when you start your fitness program, it's a great idea to have a properly written program to help you achieve your goals. All programs should adhere to basic programming principles, including:
Progressive overload: Progressive overload is a key component to a properly designed exercise program. Most injuries result from doing too much too soon! This is applicable to all types of activity in the gym and on the sporting field, all of which should be progressed in volume and intensity slowly over a number of weeks and months. Our tip is to increase your training volume no more than 10-15% each week (e.g. if you run a total of 5km during the first week of your exercise program, increase this amount by no more than 500-750m the following week)
Exercise balance: Include one pushing-type exercise (e.g. bench press, seated chest press) for every pulling-type exercise (e.g. seated row, bent over row) in the gym. For example, if you complete 4 sets of bench press, ensure you also complete 4 sets of a rowing variation like a seated row during that particular week.
Include injury prevention exercises specific to your needs:We all have our strengths and weaknesses. In some people, those weaknesses can eventually lead to an injury if not addressed. A common example of a weakness leading to problems involves the shoulder external rotators. The majority of exercises performed in a gym environment encourage the shoulders to rotate inwards (e.g. bench press), creating an imbalance in strength. Adding in an exercise to strengthening the muscles which rotate the shoulders outwards (see picture below) therefore should be encouraged in most programs! Seek professional help by a physiotherapist to identify your weaknesses and implement corrective exercises in order to reduce your risk of injury when first embarking on a fitness program
2. Ensure correct exercise technique and good posture: Maintaining good posture while exercising is crucial to reducing your risk of injury. Safe resistance-based exercises carried out in the gym should require a neutral spine, shoulder-blades set in a neutral position and knees kept in line with your second toe (see image below). Common mistakes while exercising include:
Allowing your chin to poke out (forward head posture)
Rounded shoulders and a hunched middle back (increased thoracic kyphosis)
Overarching or rounding out your lower back (increased or decreased lordosis of the lower spine)
Allowing the knees to buckle inwards
3. Warm up well and cool-down after: Warm-up appropriately before carrying out any exercise. Start each exercise routine with a gentle warm-up to elevate your body temperature. This helps prepare the muscles and tendons for the ensuing workout. This might include walking on a treadmill for 10 minutes followed by exercising the target muscle group first with a light resistance. It is also important to stretch after each workout. This stretching should target the muscles used in the preceding workout in order to stop excessive muscular tightness from developing over time. This tightness can ultimately increase your risk of injury. Speak to your physiotherapist for a stretching routine appropriate for your exercise program and training goals.
If you would like to speak to a physio at ProSport to organise an assessment, or to ask questions and discuss your particular problem, you can call us at 0415 889 903, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or book online by clicking HERE. We are happy to have a no-obligation free discussion about your problem and how we can help you!