Most gym injuries occur because people are pushing themselves too hard, too often.
All physical activity has some inherent risk, but fortunately, those risks can be minimized. This involves balancing intense physical work with adequate rest.
Here are some of my recommendations for improving training longevity and keeping yourself injury-free:
1) Know when push the limits, and when to pull the reins.
There is a time and place to see what your body is capable of, but this doesn’t mean every time you step foot in the gym.
Constantly straddling the line of what your body can do will leave you vulnerable to injuries of overuse, injuries to the connective tissues that take longer to recover than the muscles, and increase the likelihood that your form will slip and put you in a compromising situation.
Train hard, but you don’t need to set a personal record every workout.
2) Perform frequent strength training workouts.
Training with weights is known to increase bone density.
This can help combat the natural decline in bone density that occurs with age (especially in women) and can lead to conditions like osteoporosis that leave you vulnerable to fractures. Not only will it combat the decline in bone density, but it can also stop or reverse the natural decline in muscle tissue as well.
Frequent strength training will make you more impermeable to injuries in these areas.
3) Train your balance.
Like bone density, balance is another thing that declines as we age.
Risk of falling is one of the biggest threats to people in the later years of their life. Maintaining and improving balance requires practice, and starting early can put you ahead of the game.
Don’t neglect the simple practice of staying on your feet.
4) Implement core stabilization exercises.
Core stabilization exercises are those that require you to resist movement of the body. (Instead of creating movement.)
Exercises like planks, side planks, and Pallof presses, instead of crunches and sit-ups. Having a strong core stops overuse of the lower back, preventing and eliminating ongoing pain in that area.
Additionally, training the body to resist unwanted movement is a key component to preventing injuries from daily activities.
5) Get adequate amounts of sleep.
Getting enough sleep is important for giving the body a chance to fully recover between workouts.
Sleep is when our bodies have the chance to do the most repairing of the muscle tissues used during the previous day’s workout. By shorting yourself on sleep you are also reducing the time available for this recovery process—leaving you prone to injury as time goes on.
Aim for a minimum of 7-8 hours most nights of the week.
In the end, it’s the structure of your program that should be built to prevent injuries—training the right things, at the right time, with the right intensity.
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