Avoiding Exercise Injuries

Avoiding Exercise Injuries

It’s that time of year… “New Year, New You!” marketing!

You may be seeing ads for Peloton or Tonal. You may be seeing weight loss challenges at your gym. Your friend may be trying to get you to buy into her MLM workout program. Now that you have more time after the holidays, you may just be thinking of dusting off your sneakers and getting back into an exercise routine on your own.

But it’s extremely common for people to get injured at the beginning of a new exercise program – especially if the motive is weight loss, and perhaps even more so if the person was in better shape at another time in life. It’s all too easy to compete with your past instead of your present.

In today’s blog post, I’m going to be sharing five strategies for avoiding exercise injury in the new year! The less you get injured, the less you get benched, which means the more you get to exercise and stay in shape.

Strategies for Avoiding Exercise Injuries

Strategy #1: Avoid overly-intense challenges

Challenges that require you to exercise strenuously on a daily (or regular) basis are not the right choice for someone who is just starting out. They may be a good challenge for someone who is already in extremely good shape, but for the average person who has not been exercising regularly, it’s usually not the right fit.

When you’re just starting out – especially if your motive is weight loss – just focus on the total volume of your activity/exercise, not how intense it is. Take a lot of walks. Get on an exercise bike. Do very moderate strength training. Be very mindful of your limits.

This is true even if you used to be in very good shape. If you have been taking some serious time off, you’re de-conditioned and prime for an injury. Start slow.

Strategy #2: Update your gear

Do you need new running shoes? A new sports bra?

Properly-fitting gear can be very important for avoiding sports injuries. A common “getting back into shape” choice of exercise is running, because it’s so simple and accessible for most people. But it’s also notorious for injuries.

Make sure to get new shoes that are ideal for your foot shape and running style. For women, sports bras are just as important as shoes – get re-fitted, and make sure that you are absolutely comfortable and secure.

Strategy #3: Incorporate variety

Look, there’s probably a type of exercise that you enjoy more than others. Maybe you’re a runner. Maybe you’re a CrossFitter. Maybe you’re a yogi. But to maximize fitness while preventing injury, it’s an incredibly good idea to mix it up so that you don’t get overtrained in one area.

I’ve written about this in the past, but the idea is that focusing on only one type of exercise to the complete exclusion of others creates vulnerabilities – to injury, and to adaptation. Meaning – you’re more likely to get hurt, and you’re less likely to see good results over time.

Do a mix of cardio (and different types of cardio), weightlifting, mobility work, and power/speed work. If you could happily run five days a week, for example, try to take two days to do some strength training and mobility work instead of running… your body will thank you.

Strategy #4: Take rest days

Maybe you feel like the problem is that you’ve been on one long rest day for months (or years). Rest days now? But what if you lose momentum?

It’s a smart idea to take recovery days. Your body spends the time rebuilding and healing, your next workout will be even better.

But it’s still a good idea to stay active. “Rest” doesn’t mean “do nothing.” You can still go for walks, easy bike rides, or even an easy jog. Especially if your motive for exercise is weight loss, it’s a great idea to keep steps high every day that you can, even “rest” days.

Strategy #5: Pay attention to other recovery factors

But recovery isn’t all about workouts and rest days. It’s also about all the other things you do, like…

  • Drinking enough water
  • Getting enough (good) sleep
  • Fueling workouts well with carbohydrates and protein
  • Managing mental/emotional stress skillfully

When you undertake a new exercise routine, it’s essential that you treat your body very, very well. Exercise is a form of stress. It’s a good form of stress, which your body learns to adapt to and become stronger, but it’s still stress – and if you’re stressing out your body in other ways too, it can become overwhelming.

Each of these recovery factors could be a blog post on its own, so I’m not going to dive in deep in this article. But just run down those four bullet points – water, sleep, fuel, and stress – and ask yourself, where are your weak areas?

Then just tackle one.

I salute you for starting a new workout program in the new year! I create personalized programs for one-on-one clients. Are you interested in chatting about what this could look like for you? Set up a free consultation.