ONE of the most common fears shared by people who anticipate the start of a fitness journey — especially when they don't have a professional holding their hands through the process — is the possibility of picking up an injury that will thwart their efforts. But personal trainer and fitness instructor a Hard End Fitness factory on Ardenne Road, Gisel Harrow, said that while it is easy to injure yourself as a first timer, there are a number of ways that you can avoid incidences of injury.
“Exercise is beneficial for a better way of life; however, it's advisable to ensure you're cleared by your medical practitioner before starting any exercise programme. In addition, when you start exercising, to ensure that you don't hinder your progress, you will need to go in with a level head,” Harrow advised.
Below she shares tips to reduce injury during a workout.
1. Warm up
Perhaps the most important step in your exercise regimen is ensuring that you warm up properly before your routine.
“The recommended period to warm up is 10-20 minutes of cardiovascular activity. So these can include walking, running, and the reason for this is that they will gradually increase your heart rate and loosen your muscles and joints,” Harrow advised.
It is important that you stretch your body during and after performing exercises for a number of reasons. For one, Harrow said that it helps to increase flexibility, but there are also the added benefits like the contribution to the strength and health of muscles while simultaneously preventing the shortening or tightening and the ability of the joints to maintain a range of motion.
3. Always start off slowly
In working out, building up is very important to help your body to acclimatise.
“So you want to start at a slow to moderate pace and gradually work your way up in endurance, intensity and frequency. This will reduce damage to muscles and tissues and the body in general,” Harrow instructed.
4. Maintain a balanced and nutritious diet
You have to make sure you're fuelling your body to aid your exercise regimen. If you are committed to your workout, then you should also take what you consume seriously, so you also want to choose a diet that will see you getting adequate amounts of calories and nutrients to support you throughout the day.
5. Keep hydrated
When we exercise we tend to sweat a lot, and this means that we would be losing a lot of the water that we consume this way. To ensure that the body can function effectively, it is important that this water is being replaced during your workout. If you do not do this then you are likely to experience tiredness, muscle cramps, achy joints and dizziness, for example.
6. Choose appropriate gears
Wearing appropriate gym clothes is important for a number of reasons, including comfort. For example, you may want to choose clothes with fabric designed to absorb sweat. You also want to make sure that the footwear you choose is determined by the types of exercise you will do to ensure that you are adequately supported.
7. Listen to your body and get sufficient rest
Sleep is a very important part of your body's recovery process. Since exercise is one of those activities that is very demanding on the body, it will require adequate time to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues.
8. Cooling down
Cooling down following the completion of each fitness session is just as important as the process of warming up. Harrow explained that this allows for a smooth transition from exercise back to a steady state of rest. She said that this will help to prevent the possibility of fainting or dizziness often associated with a build-up of blood in the body. Your heart rate and your breathing will gradually slow down until they return to normalcy while the muscles which also benefit from this process return to their optimal state.