There's not much worse than being all amped up about establishing a new workout pattern than the straight-outta-nowhere injury. Injuries aren't just about physical pain, they can cause some pretty major emotional setbacks, too.
To prevent unnecessary injuries, it's important to be proactive. There are several things you can do to minimize your injury risk:
- Invest in a good foam roller. Using a foam roller before workouts and before you climb into bed each night is a great way to keep your muscles limber.
- S-t-r-e-t-c-h. And not those goofy 2 second stretches I typically try to get away with, either. Make sure you modify your stretch routine to match the type of workout you're about to bust out. Dynamic stretches are excellent to warm up your body before a run, and static stretches are more beneficial afterwards. Just like anything else, the key is to be smart about it! Talk to a trainer or do some research to learn what kind of stretches will help you stay injury-free and have an effective workout.
- Don't forget the warm-up sets when lifting weights. Yes, this is important even after you've done some light dynamic stretching to prep for your lifts.
- And guys, seriously? Listen to your body. I tend to overdo it because I think I am still 18 and I have waaaay too much of a competitive vibe going for me. But your body knows when something isn't right. If your ankle starts screaming at you or your knee suddenly seems to have forgotten how to work correctly -- stop and pay attention to what's going on. It's better to stop mid-workout to figure out a potential injury than push through and end up unable to hit the gym for the next 6 weeks!
- Ice, ice baby. If you do find yourself with an unexplainably wonky injury, get some ice on that thing! Ice is the best way to treat a sudden injury. You'll reduce any swelling and alleviate pain, and can apply the ice pack for about 10 minutes several times a day. However, if your injury doesn't seem better after a few days -- it's time to call the doctor.
So be smart about what your body is telling you, and remember -- even if you do have a minor setback due to injury, there will still be ways to stay on the journey to your best health ever. Your doctor can help you make a plan that keeps you active while your wounded limb (and pride) are healing. Just don't give up -- you're worth all the effort it takes to remain true to your dreams!