If you are just now trying to get healthier or get back into fitness at the gym, then this information is right for you. One of the most common injuries I see in my chiropractic office is from people going from doing no exercises or little exercise to trying to lift the world. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was your body. When we look at athletes it is important to remember that they spend years on their health and physique, and trying to push ourselves to that level immediately will only lead to injury.
When we are sedentary for too long, our joints stop moving as well and can lead to restrictions in motion. This is part why “sitting is the new smoking”. It becomes more difficult to twist, bend, and flex the longer we go without real movement. Many exercises involve dynamic movements, and if you have trouble going through the motion then it sets you up for injury. The most common injuries we see are back pain, neck strains, shoulder injuries, elbow injuries, and knee pain.
The other dangerous thing with these sports and fitness injuries is they usually involve a ligament or tendon, and these tissues are notorious for healing slowly. Doing everything you can to prevent sports injuries will help you exercises longer and better. Here is a short list of the best things you can do to prevent sports injuries at the gym.
Go into the gym with a plan for what you want to do, because a routine enables you to stay on track and use effective exercises. Routines can be found on the internet, but even better is to have a personal plan from a trainer to make sure the exercises you are doing are right for you. Women should be doing some sort of resistance exercise to help strengthen bones and prevent osteoporosis. When doing your exercises, be sure to look at the proper form. Many times we see patients come in with back injuries from lifting heavy weights with bad form (ultimately putting so much pressure on their discs that they herniate). Again, form videos can be found on the internet but it is even better to have a professional watch your form and give you advice. A little work on effective planning makes for an efficient work-out that gives you the best results.
While most people start the gym session with stretching, the real way to prevent injury is with dynamic movement. Static stretching would be touching your toes or pulling your head to the side, and dynamic stretching involves movement like lunges to get the legs ready. That means move your body, preferably in the motions you are going to exercise. If your plan is to do squats with a barbell, warm-up with bodyweight squats. If you want to do a bench press, use a very light weight with dumbbells and go through the motion first. This process gets blood flowing through your muscles and joints, and keeps you lubricated for the real work ahead. Starting off with typical stretching can lead to injury from potential strains, so warm-up with exercise!
Don’t Overdo it
This is especially important if you have not seriously exercised or worked-out in some time. We can think back to when we were younger and stronger and want to achieve that fitness level immediately, but take it slow. You can get to that point again, but not if you injure yourself on the first day. Levels of fitness take years to develop. In fact, it takes at least 3 months for your blood cells to be replaced with new, oxygen-efficient ones. If you are running or jogging, keep this mind and plan for a gradual change. An injury to your spine can take you out of exercising anywhere from 2 months to forever, so start slow and build on the previous work-out.
Fix Spinal Restrictions
When we are sedentary our joints become more stiff and inflexible. This is very common in office workers or people who enjoy computers and TV for their hobbies. These restrictions in the spine make it difficult to move, bend, and twist. While your body can still maintain the motion, it is becomes a different joint in the body is working overtime. One of the best examples is a restriction in the neck and midback forcing the shoulder to have to move beyond its normal limits. The motion can still happen, but at the cost of shoulder stability—this ultimately can lead to tendonitis or a rotator cuff injury. Visiting a local chiropractor is the best way to remove these restrictions to give you better performance, prevent injury, and remove pain.
Dr. Nigus, our Overland Park chiropractor, is a specialist at helping athletes and new gym-goers have the best experience with exercise. Whether your goal is to be more fit and healthy or to set new records and compete, Dr. Nigus can help you achieve your goals. If you are experiencing a plateau in exercise or are worried about the possibility of self-injury, call our office now at (913)-953-5959 or CLICK HERE for move information.
Dr. Tyler Nigus – Chiropractor Overland Park, KS