How to Avoid Injury and Be Efficient when you Exercise


     As an athlete and personal trainer, I have come across a lot of injuries.  I have learned a lot in the process, usually from my own mistakes and rehabilitation.  When I suffered a couple terrible injuries as a young athlete, I was lucky enough to have amazing doctors and therapists that helped to not only get me better, but also make me a better athlete.  They inspired me to do what I do today.  A lot of what I do is based on injury prevention and rehabilitation, but also on exercise efficiency and proficiency. 

     First off, when you exercise using any of the basic large muscle group movements, such as squats, lunges, chest press, push up, lat pull down, row, pull up, plank, etc etc, you should NEVER add weight to an exercise until your form and range of motion are flawless.  We have all seen it- the person at the gym "doing" a squat with about 500 pounds and hardly getting any range of motion at all.  That does nothing.  Yes, I said nothing.  That person would be better off doing about 10 bodyweight squats at a full range of motion.  Practice your form on every movement, and even have someone check your form from time to time.  Having another set of eyes never hurts.

     Secondly, work on your mobility.  Learning how to do maintenance on your own body can be extremely beneficial.  Using a foam roller, bands, or a tennis/lacrosse ball can help to loosen up just about any muscle or fascia in the body.  The photo below includes 6 of the best mobility exercises to try for maximum range of motion on most activities. 

To avoid injury, we have to make sure our bodies are ready to do something.  For example, if you cannot touch your hands behind your back, you may not be ready to do an overhead squat.  We are often too eager to do something, get better at it, make it harder, heavier, and more more more.  That is not always the best way to do things, even though some people may tell you otherwise.  Trust me, it took about 30 years for me to learn that one myself, and I still forget it at times.

1. Posterior hip mobilization

GOOD FOR: Loosening up a stiff hip capsule or making you more efficient on a bike, in a kayak, or whenever you are in hip flexion.

2. Shoulder extension, external rotation

GOOD FOR: Opening up shoulder joints, which are particularly tight among swimmers and climbers. 

3. Anterior hip mobilization

GOOD FOR: Loosening up tight hip flexors, common among runners, cyclists, and rowers.

4. Ankle dorsiflexion

GOOD FOR: Ankle flexibility, which helps save runners tremendous energy.

5. 10-minute deep-squat test                                               

GOOD FOR: Increasing mobility in the ankles, knees, and hips.

6. Couch stretch

GOOD FOR: Opening up the entire anterior muscle chain, allowing you to fully extend your hips, knees, and ankles.

     Lastly, do NOT bite off more than you can chew.  If you are working out and your body demands a day off, give it one.  You can even give it a couple.  It will perform better because it is fully rested and recovered.  Training too much can result in just as many injuries as training too little.  Our bodies have to heal to get stronger and more stable.  Take care of your body, and it will take care of you.

Visit us for a Running and Mobility Workshop on Saturday, June 22nd, 2013 from 12-2PM!

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