Whether you’re running, swimming, spinning, dancing or playing a team sport, you’re getting out there and staying active — that’s great. What’s not so great is the possibility that your good intentions and steady training could be derailed by an injury. And, while some injuries are simply caused by bad luck or bad timing, others can be prevented if you know how. Here are seven ways to keep yourself healthy in more ways than one.
1. Suit Up Properly
One of the most important things an athlete or athletic person can do is learning how to protect their bodies while staying active. It might be hard to believe, but even focusing on something as small as the the shoes you wear while exercising can be a huge factor in whether or not you’re susceptible to injury while training. Serious exercisers should forego purchasing sneakers without the aid of a professional to examine the arch of your foot, your gait and your purpose for wearing the shoe in order to pair you with the perfect footwear. If you must go on the hunt alone, at least familiarize yourself with how to choose the best shoe, as well as which brands are best regarded in the exercise for which your shoe will be used (running, cross-training, etc.).
If you are training for a more combative, contact to contact sport, knowing the right equipment to protect other parts of your body is also something to consider. For instance, if playing a sport such as football, wearing the proper head gear is an absolute must.There have been different attempts throughout the years to keep athletes safe during these types of sports, but being sure to wear the correct gear is one of the easiest things you can do. Unfortunately, for NFL players there has been an increase in concussions throughout the past year. This has been quite an issue since the aftermath of brain injuries from concussions may take a while to diagnose. Even if you are not playing football or high impact sports, other activities require their own unique equipment to keeping their players safe from avoidable consequences.
2. Drink Plenty of Water
We’re all well aware of the importance of water in relation to everyday health, as well as its importance to athletes in training; however, it can easily be forgotten in the midst of a training regimen — especially one completed outdoors in the heat. It’s important to know the signs that you are dehydrated if you exercise regularly. You might feel dizzy, cramps, fatigue, or a pounding headache, among other symptoms. Of course, you can avoid feeling them altogether by drinking plenty of water before, during and after a session.
3. Eat Right, Too
The food you eat is just as important to your training and health as the water you drink. In fact, you should start thinking about your diet as the fuel for your training: the wrong type will stall you instead of helping you go. As a general rule of thumb, many exercisers eat carbohydrates prior to exercise in order to feel a burst of energy. Afterward, they bite into a protein-rich snack that helps rebuild and strengthen muscles that have been strained during a workout. Of course, there’s no one-size-fits-all nutrition plan, so build one that works best for you, your body and your training regimen.
4. Ask an Expert
A personal trainer is a great asset to your workout routine in more ways than one. When it comes to injuries, a trainer can help you avoid hurting yourself at the gym by tweaking your form so that it’s perfect and, therefore, not causing you any risk of injury. Furthermore, a trainer can tailor a routine to your trouble areas that are weaker and, therefore, may cause you trouble or pain in the future. Finally, a trainer can gauge the intensity of your workout so that you’re doing just enough to reach your goals without going to far and, eventually, taking steps back.
5. Mix It Up
Even if you don’t have the time or resources to hire a trainer, you can diversify your regular workout routine on your own. This is important to do, as reliance on a single type of exercise to keep you in shape puts you at risk of overdoing it and injuring yourself in the process. If you’re in a cardio rut, add in some weightlifting moves that target the areas that you can’t hit with a treadmill or elliptical session. On the other hand, serious weightlifters might want to consider adding in some cardio to improve heart health. No matter what, remember: variety is the spice of life, and a fresh routine will keep you engaged at the gym or on the trail. Try it!
6. Get Some Rest
Rest is important in more ways than one. First of all, you should strive to clock between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night if you’re an adult, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Waking up refreshed and energized will only improve your workout stamina and focus, which are two important factors in avoiding injuries. To that end, giving yourself a break from exercise is another key to fitness success — you’ll be amazed at your body’s performance after a day of rest from a rigorous routine.
7. Know Your Body
Nobody watching you exercise can tell you if your ankle hurts, or if you feel dizzy, or if you’d like a sip of water: only you can be the judge. That’s why the most important step in injury prevention is to know the limits and needs of your own body and to listen to them closely as you exercise. This might mean that you have to strengthen a weak muscle more slowly than you’d like or pause a workout because of a dull or more pronounced pain. No matter how frustrating that may seem, your mindful routine will pay off as you maintain or improve your physical fitness without being prone to injuries — at the end of the day, that’s what just about every exerciser wants.
About the Author
Kacey Mya Bradley is a lifestyle blogger for “The Drifter Collective.” Throughout her life, she has found excitement in the world around her. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations, cultures, and styles, while communicating these endeavors through her passion for writing and expression. Her love for the world around her is portrayed through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.