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How to Make Injury Prevention a Key Component on Every Fitness Journey

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When most people enter into their fitness journey, the first motivating factor that comes to mind is looking a certain way.  This can mean weight loss, “toning”, building muscle, etc.  But what happens when your motivation for the way you look dies or “goes in waves”?

Fitness provides us with a greater transformation besides the way we look.  And when we dive deeper into what our full transformation actually looks like, we might discover that there are other more motivating factors to moving our body such as having more energy, feeling strong and confident, being in less pain, or preventing future injuries.  We don’t think about potential injuries until we are faced with them and when it happens, it’s all we can think about.  So what if we avoided injury before it has a chance to happen?  Here’s why injury prevention should be a key component in your fitness journey and how to apply it to your workouts.

We only have one body and it is sacred.  If you injure your back, shoulder, knee, etc. it is a pain that you could live with the rest of your life.  You can still have your same intensity in your workouts, but with some precautionary measures, you can make sure to prevent injury.  Here are some best practices when it comes to injury prevention:

#1:  NEVER SKIP THE STRETCH AND WARM UP!

This is THE MOST important part of your workout.  Stretching and warming up loosens your joints and muscles to prepare them for physical activity.  If you talk to any fitness coach, 95% of them would tell you that they intentionally plan their warm ups.  Your warm up can look like your workout.  An example is if you are doing a lower body day, your warm up can consist of quad stretches, hamstring stretches, air squats, and inch worms.  It can be anywhere from 5-10 minutes and can start working on increasing your heart rate to prepare your body for your workout.

#2:  Keep your stretch and warm up just as fun as your cool down

You don’t have to do the same stretch and warm up every time.  Keep it interesting!  Maybe you watch 10 minutes of your favorite TV show or turn on your favorite song as your “treat” for warming up.  It doesn’t have to be complicated!  Your cool down can be a fun challenge such as holding a plank for as long as possible, doing a 5 minute yoga circuit, or even simply repeating your warm up and feeling how much more mobile your body feels.

#3:  Focus on intentional movement

A lot of the time, we are more focused on completing the workout vs having proper form.  This is the #1 cause of injury when working out.  Have you ever heard “so many people get injured doing cross fit!”.  This is because heavy weights are integrated too quickly before range of motion is there.  Focusing on proper form with movements before you incorporate weights is the best way to reduce your risk of injury.  Not sure what “proper form’ is?  Work with a professional! Even if it’s just for a short period of time to perfect and understand what functional movement should look like before progression.

#4:  Proper progression

When most people start their fitness journey, it is an “all or nothing” mentality.  So they show up to day one and beat their body up so badly that the next day they can’t even sit on the toilet or walk up and down the stairs without pain.  This is due to lactic acid build up in your muscles.  So in return, we “skip” days to recover because we just can’t fathom doing that to our bodies again.  When we do this, we are putting our bodies in a state of stress.  You SHOULD be able to walk and not be crippled the next day after a workout (no matter if it’s your first day back in a while or your 100th day this year).  Proper progression is important to preventing injury and maintaining consistency with your routine.  Progression looks different for everyone so working with a professional to get individualized advice is the key to getting started.  A “red flag” that you need a professional is being crippling sore the next day, inconsistency with your workouts because they are “too hard” or you don’t feel physically capable, and not knowing how to actually properly progress yourself.

Focusing on injury prevention when planning your fitness planning strategy will not only “prevent injury” but keep you mobile, active, and healthier as we age.  It may not feel like the most important item right now, but when everyone else is saying “I can’t do the same things I just was able to do when I was younger” you will be saying “I’ve never felt so strong!”.  Taking injury prevention seriously now will set you up for long term success on your fitness journey.  So what are we waiting for?!

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