Injury-free exercise: How to protect yourself

March 06, 2016 Rachael Guth

So many people get injured as they start our on their exercise journey. It's a pity because they end up quitting or putting off exercise for a while. Not to mention, getting hurt suck! And hurts! 

Remember these simple 5 rules to stay injury-free:

1. Always stretch. Before, during and after workout. The more, the better. 
2. Practice balance. If you are just starting out, don't do difficult coordination workouts, such as advanced or step aerobics. You are likely to sprain your ankle if you are not used to the workout and are required to move in a coordinated manner at a fast pace. To practice balance, do a burpee, followed by a 15-second sprint, then burpee again, and sprint back. Do this for 3 sets followed by 1-min rest. 
3. Strengthen your joints. Before attempting to run long distances after a break, even if you've been a runner in the past, make sure your joints are ready. Knee injuries may have long-term complications. Start out by walking and work on your leg muscles in the gym with machines and free weights for a few weeks/months in order to make sure your knees can support you on long distance runs. 
4. Start with a coach. There are lots of great small bootcamp classes where a coach looks out for you! Tell them about your injury concern.
5. Never disregard your doctor's advice. Even if you feel you are ready to push yourself after injury/birth/illness/surgery, make sure your doctor agrees.
6. Rest! Run or do extensive cardio work every other day. Allow your body to recuperate. 
7. Listen to your body. You do have to push sometimes, but that's usually to power yourself through a weak moment. Never push through joint or extreme muscle pain. That kind of pain is not a good sign. It's like when your car's engine starts to smoke. You don't keep going - that will cost you thousands in repair. Sometimes things in the body go beyond repair. So remember that. 
8. Cross-train. Runners benefit from yoga! 
9. Diet and hydration. Your body needs fuel to do exercise. You will be more alert and more likely to avoid injury. 
10. Sleep! Same goes for sleep - being less tired makes you more alert!

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