How to Reduce Injury Risk at the Gym

Many people dive into exercising full of enthusiasm and big goals only to be sidelined after just starting by an injury that could have been most likely prevented. Use these 5 tips to decrease your risk of an injury while at the gym.

1) Warm-up Properly

Nothing will increase your risk for an injury like jumping into an exercise routine without having warmed up your muscles first.

To prevent debilitating muscle tears, do a short 10 minute cardio routine of jumping jacks or use an elliptical trainer. That will get the blood and nutrients flowing to your muscles before you start your real workout.

2) Keep Hydrated

Not only is it important to drink water throughout the duration of your workout at the gym, it is important you go into your routine hydrated. A couple of indicators that you may not be drinking enough water are if you feel thirsty and the colour of your urine.

When your body tells you it is thirsty, you are already in the early stages of dehydration; if your urine is a dark yellow instead of a light yellow or clear, your body is thirsting for water. If you show either of those indicators, drink more fluids.

To prevent dehydration in the first place, drink five to ten ounces of water before exercising. Then every 10 to 20 minutes, depending on how much you sweat while exercising, drink some more water.

3) Pre and Post-Workout Stretching

Stretching both before and after a workout increases your flexibility and can prevent tearing a muscle. Focus on dynamic stretching before a workout and static stretching afterwards.

The difference is with dynamic stretching you are loosening up the muscles before your workout by stretching them out, but not holding them in the stretched position. With static stretching, you stretch out the muscles you used and hold for a few seconds.

4) Eat Right

By eating right, you have an adequate supply of glycogen stored in your muscles to carry you through your workout. If your muscles don’t have adequate nutrition, you could suffer muscle failure during your workout which usually leads to a muscle tear, something that takes a long time to heal.

After working out, treat your body to about 20 grams of protein to help replenish your protein stores and to help your muscles repair themselves.

5) Rest

The body goes through a rebuilding process at night when you are sleeping. Therefore it is crucial to get at least eight hours of sleep per night.

Also take at least one day off per week from exercising. If you train at a high intensity, take a week off about every eight weeks of training.

Finally listen to your body; if you feel really sore or worn out, take some time off and let your body rebuild itself.

Use these tips to lessen your risk of an injury while exercising at the gym. The last thing you need is to be side-lined by an injury that could have been prevented.

Image by Mike Fleming