6 Tips for Getting Fit Without Getting Hurt
Ah, spring and summer time! As the days lengthen and warm up, you’re probably starting to panic about getting fit (aren’t we all!). And while you might be tempted to overdo it at the gym, on the running trail, or in the weight room, we’re here to tell you: STOP RIGHT NOW!
Overdoing it can lead to painful injuries. Painful injuries mean that instead of spending the summer showing off your toned and flattened body, you’ll be cooped up nursing a bum ankle or knee. We are by no means recommending that you continue with your couch potato ways. However, we understand that pushing yourself too hard leads to problems. Following a few easy recommendations, you’ll still get fit without getting hurt.
Know your body. First and foremost, you should know your body, what works for you and what doesn’t, as well as your limitations. Not everyone is cut out for the same exercise routine. For instance, if you know you have problems with your knees, stair steppers will put a lot of strain on those joints. Instead, choose something along the lines of an elliptical machine or stationary bike. While you’re still achieving a great cardio workout, your knees aren’t taking such a pounding.
Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Kenneth Plancher of Albert Einstein College of Medicine recommends first acknowledging weak areas in your body before slowly building those areas up. If you can’t build up slowly, avoid activities that stress those spots altogether.
Hire a pro. One of the main causes of injury is not doing certain workouts the right way. Hiring a licensed or certified professional is a great way to make sure your body is properly aligned and that you are performing the movement correctly. Instructors are able to help you identify which workouts are best for your body and which ones to avoid. They can make educated progression recommendations while also making sure you’re giving your body enough time to rest, too.
Warm-up, cool-down. Every time you exercise, you should first warm-up no matter what type of routine you’re doing that day. A warm-up gets your heart rate up, loosens muscles and joints, and prepares your body for full-on exercise beast mode. Examples of warm-ups include:
- Jogging in place
- Jumping rope
Likewise, you should always conclude your workout with a cool-down. This helps ease your heart rate back to normal before going about your regular day. Examples of cool-downs include:
Cross-train. Constantly doing the same routine causes wear and tear on certain muscles and joints, leading to overuse and injury of those areas. By rotating your routines, you’ll get a better all-over workout and prevent yourself from burning out. This is in part why you hear people talking about “leg days,” “arm days,” or “cardio days.” Focusing on one area of your body or one type of exercise at a time and then rotating to something else gives you time to recover in between. For example:
- Leg day — day one
- Arm day — day two
- Running — day three
Understand the signs. Toss the “no pain, no gain” mentality right out the window. When your knees are saying “ouch!” that means they’ve met their limit and you need to back off. Listening to the signs and symptoms your body is giving you will help you avoid injury. When you start noticing a problematic area, back off it, opt for a routine that won’t cause stress to that area, and give yourself time to recover.
Fuel up. Your body won’t be in top-performing condition if it’s running on empty. Make sure you give yourself plenty of the right fuel when revving up your workout regimen. You’ll need lots and lots of hydration, protein, and vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables.
We know you want to look your best as summer approaches. But getting fit shouldn’t cost you pain or injury. With these tips, you’ll hit the gym with success and be ready for summer in no time!
 Bouchez, C. (2008). 6 ways to avoid workout injury. Accessed March 22, 2016. Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/6-ways-avoid-workout-injuries.