This topic is very near and dear to my heart, not to mention my musculoskeletal system. Not only can I give you guidance on how to prevent injuries as an experienced fitness teacher, I can also weigh in empathetically.
I recently had the not so fortunate experience of undergoing an anterior posterior spinal fusion. My decision to finally get out of pain happened after many years of conservative therapy coupled with my unique situation of a curved and damaged spine. Of course, our goals are to avoid being invaded by sharp objects, but we must make lemonade out of lemons! What I was given I chose to see as extra street cred in my professional career.
The unique form of pilates-based fitness I teach called Lagree Method at The Studio MDR gave me a huge head start strengthening my back pre, and post surgery. And, I love to train myself and enjoy many forms of fitness, such as cross training. It’s smart to train similar muscle groups in different ways. Thankfully this is the technique I coach.
We play hard and sometimes fall hard; that’s life. We don’t stop at the first sign of discomfort, but, do we really know how to protect our precious bods? When to push, when to be gentle? Consider the following information to keep your body safe and sound.
1. Prepare your muscles.
Stop it before if happens. PRE, key word folks. It’s called warm-up for a reason — there should be a beginning, middle and end to your workout. In a group exercise situation, I’m assuming your teacher has a plan, preparing your muscles for action. If you’re going at a solo run, surf, hike, etc. you need to become your own coach. Take a moment to thoroughly wake up your body, stretch, and get your blood pumping.
2. Fuel up!
A well-nourished body has a better chance of dodging injuries. Being properly fueled might save yourself some unwanted doctor visits. Are you supplying your body with enough calories for the amount of energy you are putting out? Different energy systems require different fuel. Know your macros and which ones are most efficient for your specific training program.
3. Sweat the small stuff.
When it comes to your body, there is no such thing as a drought. Your system needs water to live. Also, H2O reduces joint aches and prevents muscle cramping. Oh, and you know that thing you do when you workout called sweating? Water helps regulate our bodies’ thermostat. Dehydration can also cause moodiness, dizziness and lack of focus, which won’t help you preform optimally.
4. Know thy body.
I can’t say this enough: body-awareness. I was a gymnast. Neither flexible nor graceful, however, I was powerful. So, my coach chose the event that I would excel at, the vault. Run fast, jump hard. It didn’t require my legs contorted behind my head. My point? You can work on mobility, your range of motion, but if your hips are created one way and you want them to move another, you may need to adjust your expectations. Becoming familiar with your body combined with realistic goals will give you an opportunity to get strong. And strength is an excellent component to evade injury.
5. Rest and recover.
Why rest? Over training, stresses out joints and can burn out your body on a phycological level. Scientifically, when muscles break down during weight lifting, pulling or pressing, it’s essential to allow for a repair day. I get it, I’m a fitness-junkie. I’ve learned to listen to my body and reign it in. It’s challenging when you feel powerful, excited to workout. Remind yourself that the recovery period is just as relevant as the training. Treat yourself to a soothing massage. Bodywork helps the body work.
6. Be a beginner.
It’s exciting to start a new workout. Maybe it’s a totally new genre of fitness you’ve been dying to try like Underwater Skateboarding, or you’ve decided to clock less miles on the couch. Start gradually and enjoy the process. Go though the steps and accept that there may be a learning curve to your new fitness hobby.
It isn’t enough just to survive through an ass kicking from your favorite instructor. Be rigorous in your pursuit to achieve balance in your body and soul. Look at your life as a whole, morning till bedtime, food habits, activity and rest. The value of knowing how special your one and only body is, is infinite.