The reason I want to bring this topic up is a severe injury of Achilles Tendon I suffered a years ago playing soccer and still have not fully recovered from it.
Although, looking at the statistics, fitness, bodybuilding and power lifting injuries have a lower rate of injuries comparing to other sports such as football, contact sports, even athletics, they still do happen. The reason for being so is, most of us while working out is that most of the time we are repeating the same movements and our muscles, joints and body in general is used to that repetitive motion. That is one of the reasons why we could get injured doing something our body is not used to. You can never be a 100% sure, but following certain steps you can minimize chances to get injured in the gym.
I can not stress enough the importance of warming up before starting workout. Most of the people are ready just to jump in the workout and not giving a second thought about preparing their bodies for the stress and pain that is coming. Whether you are working on your big muscle groups like legs, backs or chests, or small muscle groups like arms and shoulders your activity throughout the day is not enough to prepare your muscles and joints for the stress that is coming during the exercise.
So, to get that blood flow in our muscles, to lubricate the joints and to warm up and stretch our tendons here are two specific types of warm-up I am doing:
- General warm-up: This type of warm up is to raise your body temperature and start the lubrication of the joints and basically to signal our body some pain is coming. Whatever the activity will make you start sweating. I usually take 7-8 minutes on a treadmill, elliptical of stair master starting with low pace and increasing the speed or incline until I reach the point of starting sweating. Body temperature is raised and now it is the time to move to the next step
- Specific warm-up: The point of the specific warm up is to target the muscles you are about to put stress on. The point is to start with the light weight, with empty bar, one or two plates on a lat machine or 5-10 Lb dumbbells doing slow compound, isolation or circular movements, depending on the muscle group you are doing that day. 2-3 sets 8-10 reps, but you don’t want your weights to be too light. I am mostly focusing on the form and going through the motion filling muscles with blood.
This usually takes 15-20 minutes and it will save you lot’s of pain in a long run.
Rule#2 PERFORM EXERCISES CORRECTLY
Now, when you started going to the gym, did you know how to perform exercises? I did not. And neither did you. None of us was born with previous knowledge of how to do things. We had to learn. The same thing applies to the workout. Take time and learn how to correctly perform exercises. You don’t need to pay an expensive personal trainer, there is too many videos available online, and believe me, if you ask anyone in the gym, 99% of the people will not reject you. All you need to do is ASK.
Rule#3 EGO DOES NOT BELONG HERE
Going into the gym most of the time you would see 2 types of extremes. People over-training and people under-training. Second group of guys is just people who do not train hard enough. First group however… these guys need to keep their ego in check. Not every day is you max strength day. And by overloading the bar you are increasing chances of getting injured, or best case scenario you will jeopardize your form and you will not hit the muscle you are targeting. And that Tarzan scream at the end of every rep… come on. Yes I understand it is heavy, but be considerate. You will push more air out of you than if you just exhale and the next one will be gasping for the air.
Rule#4 COOL DOWN
You’ve just completed your workout and your body suffered great stress. It is time to cool it down. The goal is to return your body or to get is close to pre-workout condition. Your heart was pumping blood like crazy during the last 60-90 minutes and it needs to slow down. Your muscles need to cool down as well and you will lengthen and stretch them and will also remove lactic acid from your muscles which will help your muscle recovery and growth. Cool down you should include only static stretching (holding the stretch) 20-30 seconds because static stretching limits muscle force and speed.
It’s been said many times, and will be repeated, loosing weight is a marathon, not a race. You can greatly benefit from following these rules and get your body in shape you wanted.
Avoid injuries by doing the right thing, otherwise you will have to cross the same road more than once.