When it comes to health, a balanced workout is just as important as a balanced diet. But all it takes is a simple injury to set you back weeks or even months from reaching your fitness goals. Put the odds in your favor by understanding these common injuries and how you can help prevent them.
Begin any exercise routine with a 5- to 10-minute cardio warm-up—walking or light jogging—to increase the heart rate and move blood and oxygen to the muscles. This helps prepare your body for strenuous exercise. After, it's important to do a 10-minute cooldown to gradually lower the heartbeat to normal and prevent dizziness.
It’s a common injury, and not too surprising. Extended time sitting at our desks or sofas can weaken back muscles. A smart course is to gradually strengthen your back muscles with low-intensity exercise. Other culprits for a strained back: arching your spine during standing lifts and uneven distribution of the weight.
Pain along the lower front of the legs occurs when muscles overstress and inflame—a problem often found with runners and athletes who run or jump on hard pavement. Avoid shin splints by wearing proper shoes that are in good condition, and warm up before exercise to get blood flowing into your leg muscles.
Cartilage beneath the kneecap becomes irritated, often due to weak hip, glute, and quad muscles. Strengthen these muscles with exercises like lunges, hip thrusts, kettlebell swings, and walking with lateral bands.
Rotator Cuff Injury
The rotator cuff is the group of muscles that support your shoulder joint. Workouts that involve a lot of shoulder movements can strain these muscles. Make sure to use proper form and the correct weight to avoid any rotator cuff injuries.
IT Band Syndrome (ITBS)
The iliotibial band consists of ligaments along the outside of your leg from the knee to the hip. It can become tight and inflamed from overuse, such as with spin cycling, or if you run on uneven or banked surfaces. To avoid ITBS, wear running shoes that are in good condition, make sure your seat height is correct when cycling, and run on even surfaces or vary your route on banked running tracks.
A workout injury can happen to anyone. But if we’re smart about exercise, the odds are in our favor.
Get more health and fitness tips in this month's issue of Balance Magazine, available in stores or by subscription.