Regular exercise promotes a healthy lifestyle. But with over 3.5 million sports related injuries occurring each year, it’s important to follow safe practices when it comes to exercise and activity. One important element of safety is using the correct equipment. Let’s take a look at how to choose the right workout gear and materials to maximize results and help you remain safe and healthy when you hit the gym.
Listen to Your Body
This is one of the most basic and easy to follow suggestions when discussing safe exercise practices. Your body is an expert at telling you when it’s had enough, needs a break, or isn’t feeling right. If your body is signaling you that it feels weak, tired, or injured, you need to listen. Ignoring these natural signs can lead to serious injury.
Certain signs can mean different things. If you begin feeling weak or dizzy during your workout, you may be dehydrated. Another, potentially more serious condition, could be exercise-induced asthma. This presents itself during intense workouts and side effects include chest tightness, shortness of breath, and dizziness. Because these symptoms are sometimes related to intense workouts, they may go unnoticed. If they persist, you need to seek medical attention.
Muscle soreness and tightness are other signs that your body needs a break. This can come in the form of a less intense exercise routine, a rest day, or an alternative form of exercise. If you have a known injury but choose to remain active, do so with caution. Listen to your doctor’s recommendations for safe exercise and activity that won’t compromise your current injury.
Change Things Up
This was just mentioned in terms of treating an injury, but alternating your workout routines is an important element of remaining injury-free, as well as seeing optimum results in the gym or on the field. Why? To avoid hitting a plateau, similar to the plateau some people experience during food diets. An exercise plateau is known as adaptation.
Your body will adapt to the same, repeated exercise and eventually burn less calories than it once did when the routine was new or different. Switching up your exercises will help your body and muscles react in new and different ways, creating more calorie burn and varying results. New exercises also target new and often unused muscle groups. If you continue to work the same area of the body repeatedly, you also have higher chances of sustaining an injury. Overusing anything can wear it down over time, having the opposite intended effect.
Use Proper Form
Now that you’ve selected the proper equipment and attire, you need to use the proper form when performing certain exercises. This is especially important when lifting weights. Without proper form you’ll not only place unwanted stress and strain on certain parts of your body, but you won’t be working the proper muscles you intended on working.
Not using proper form puts strain on not only muscles, but also your tendons and joints. These awkward and unnatural positions can cause injury and even tears. Proper form also ensures that you’re targeting the intended muscles, meaning bicep curls are targeting your bicep muscle and tricep kickbacks are working your tricep. There’s no sense in performing an exercise using weights that isn’t actually working the muscle it’s made for. Proper form during running is also important to avoid back, leg or neck injuries.
Choose the Right Gear
Even if you follow all of the proper cool down and warm up practices, along with your body’s natural signals, you still need the proper gear. This means choosing the right attire and equipment.
No matter what type of exercise you’re performing, choosing the right shoes is an important factor, especially for runners and weight lifters. Running shoes come in thousands of styles, brands, and varieties. Choosing the proper sneaker is often based on the terrain where you run, the distance, and any preexisting back or leg injuries. You’ll need lighter shoes for long distance running and shoes with proper tread for trail running and hiking.
Deadlift shoes are important for anyone performing heavy weightlifting or training. And when it comes to lifting any type of weights, it’s important to choose the appropriate ones. This may take some time and trial and error. It’s always best to use lighter weights and keep proper form than try to use heavier weights that may cause injury or muscle strain. Try a few different sizes and weights before finding what’s comfortable.
You can also tape or wrap injured parts of your body to help prevent further irritation. Always check your workout gear, also. If you’re using resistance bands or straps, make sure they don’t have tears or rips in them. The same goes for weights or even shoes. Make sure all of your equipment is in proper working order before performing your workout.
If you’re performing any form of exercise properly, you’ll be sweating. That sweat is moisture escaping your body and needs replenishing. Water helps to not only regulate your internal body temperature, but also keeps your joints lubricated, preventing injury. You need water to transport oxygen, nutrients, and energy throughout your body. These are all important components during exercise. Lack of hydration during exercise can lead to not only injury but dizziness, fainting, muscle cramps, and weakness. Staying properly hydrated means performing at your highest level and remaining safe
Warm Up and Cool Down
The workout regime you choose is important, but so is what happens before and after your workout. People often skip warming up or cooling down, thinking it’s an unnecessary step in the exercise process. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth! A lot of sports injuries occur due to lack of stretching, warming up or cooling down. So, what makes it so important?
Warming up helps to increase blood flow and oxygen to your muscles, preparing them for the workout ahead. It also revs up your cardiovascular system. This process helps to reduce the risk of injury and muscle soreness the next day. Warming up should include light stretching and mobility exercises.
Following your workout, you should always cool down. It’s never a good idea to abruptly stop exercise, without some form of cool down. Cooling down allows your heart rate and blood pressure to naturally and gradually decrease. When your heart rate slows abruptly, blood can pool in your lower body and cause dizziness and fainting. Cool downs can include the same physical activity you were performing previously, just at a slower pace.
Common sense goes a long way in terms of safe exercise practices. Choosing the right equipment and using proper form is another way to prevent unwanted injury in the gym or on the field. Again, listening to your body is key. It will let you know if something is wrong and you can make adjustments accordingly.
Article Submitted By Community Writer