Injury prevention is a common term not just in gyms, but everyday life as well. In general we tend to misuse the term. By that I mean we tend to seek treatment after the fact. That is injury rehabilitation. Prevention is the action of stopping something from happening or arising.
So before stepping into the gym, before putting on your stylish body unique gear, even before hashtagging #bodyunique. What should you do?
First off how have you been fueling your body? Proper nutrient and water intake are paramount. How does your car run with no gas? Easy, it doesn’t, same goes for your body. Good nutrition and hydration will help optimize your workout as well as recovery time post workout.
Ok, so you drank just the right amount of water and had a great healthy meal two to three hours before getting to the gym, now what? The answer, three magic words: Self myofascial release (SMR) also known as foam rolling.
SMR is a technique used to:
- address adhesions(we’ll get to those in a moment)
- reduce soreness
- relieve muscle tightness
- increases flexibility
- increases blood flow, (helps in recovery)
SMR deal with fascia. Not just you muscle but every structure in your body has a layer of fascia. Over-stressing your muscles, be it from repetitive movements, over training, or injury can tear the fascia. When these tears don’t heal properly, the fascia can bond together causing adhesions (commonly thought of as knots or trigger points). These adhesions keep your muscles from working optimally and cause pain. In preparation for a workout one should foam roll for a good 5 to 15 minutes depending on time constraints.
After SMR is the equally important ramp. Studies have shown that static stretching before a sporting event can hinder one’s performance. To get ready one should mimic the motions of their sport. Doing such in a slower manner concentrating on increasing range of motion and stability. This is where your ramp comes into play. Each workout should have a tailored ramp personalized to the person’s specific needs and limitations. One thing to keep in mind is the ramp is not the workout. Each motion should be done at a pace where the person can feel their end ranges and look to increase them as well as warm the muscles up in preparation of the upcoming exercise.
Once your body is ready, its time for the actual workout. Which brings us to technique, huge in terms of injury prevention. Not knowing how to do an exercise correctly is a fast track to injury. While preparing and executing an exercise with proper technique will ensure you are getting the most out of your workout and help to stay injury free.
I would like to end with the WHY? Why are you warming up? Why are you doing the workout you are doing? While working out just to workout is great. Answering the why will outline goals and better structure for your workouts. Train with a purpose, and be one percent better than you were yesterday.