Let’s face it, being out of the gym sucks, there’s no getting around that, especially when you’re used to a training regime which requires you to spend several days per week training. We get into routines so that working out becomes almost a second nature to us, and becomes just as regular as brushing our teeth in the morning. If something happens that means we can’t get to the gym however, the real damage caused isn’t to our physiques at all, but much rather to our minds instead. We feel lost when we can’t train, as if we’ve lost a part of us, and it is easy for us to feel as if we’re stuck in a rut, counting down the days until we’re able to pick up the iron and resume our training. I should know, for the last three weeks I’ve been out of commission with a flu virus that just will not go away, and it is still making life uncomfortable for me now. Combine this timing with the excesses and indulgences of the festive season, and when I am able to train again in a few days (all being well) I’ll have to knuckle down and get some real work done. Thankfully with a virus, the recovery time is days, or in my case weeks, rather than months, as is the case with many gym-related injuries. Picking up an injury in the gym can be extremely debilitating indeed, which is why I’ve compiled this list, highlighting 3 simple tips to help you prevent injuries when training.
Always warm up! – Ok, be honest now, how many of you are guilty of strolling into the gym after work or school, setting down your bags etc, and jumping right into your workouts pretty much the second you step foot into the gym? I know I am, or at least I used to be, and I paid the price big time whilst dead lifting, picking up one of the most painful back injuries I’ve ever experienced, which kept me bedridden for several days, and out of the gym for nearly 4 weeks. Stretching and warming up before exercising is absolutely vital, no matter how big or tough you may think you are. Set 5 – 10 minutes aside before your workout, and stretch your muscles and warm your body up before you begin your workout. Not only will this help to prevent injuries, it will also make your muscles more efficient.
Make sure you get your rest – Yes, you’ve probably seen those internet memes commonly used on fitness sites and social media pages: “Rest day? Where is my rest muscle and how do I train it?” or “I rest when I sleep” etc. In reality however, rest days are extremely important because they help our bodies to recover following the strenuous activity we put them through during our workouts. Not only does this mean you’ll be far less likely to pick up an injury, but it will also help improve your physique because as you know, we grow when we rest.
Know when to stop – Knowing when to stop and cut your losses so to speak, is another key element for staying injury free, or at least minimizing the damage caused due to injury. If you’re in the gym, performing bent over barbell rows for example, and you feel something “go” in your back, you must stop immediately. When we pick up injuries whilst training, unless they’re extremely severe, they aren’t actually all that painful at the time, it’s when we wake up the next day that we realize just how severe they really are. When we’re training, endorphins and adrenalin are flowing through our bodies, which can mask the pain so that the injury we pick up simply feels uncomfortable rather than painful. If you continue to work through that injury however, you will only cause more damage, make the injury worse, and leave yourself even longer on the shelf to recover. If you feel anything unusual when training, even if it hardly hurts at all; stop immediately, go home, and relax as that is the best thing you can do to minimize damage to your body, meaning that you will only need a few days, possibly a week or two on the sidelines, rather than months upon months in the case of more severe injuries.
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