The reasons that hundreds of thousands of people experience workout injury or sports injuries each year are too long to list in this quick article but some of the main reasons include:
1. Faulty movement patterns which can include something as complex as poor body mechanics or as basic as poor posture or poor technique during training sessions.
2. Training beyond your fitness level or ability which can include something as basic as lifting more than you can handle or working at a tempo that is too fast for your endurance level or can be something as complex as movement pattern combinations that are not appropriate for your skill set or training background.
3. Not being present which can encompass everything from skipping your warmup, rushing or going through the motions, focusing on results instead of on progress or skipping your cool down or recovery which is key to being able to do it all over again at an improved level. It can also be something as complex as tuning out because the style of training you've chosen doesn't match your underling motivation for training.
I can honestly say that I've experienced injuries for all the reasons listed above. My low back injury during dance practice when I was 18 was due to #2. That hip bursistis back in 2010 that took 11 months to rehab was also due to #2 and my recent troubles with levator scapulae and neck spasms are due to #1 but recently aggravated by #3 (rushing and skipping cool down stretches). Here's 5 simple ways to prevent exercise or sports injuries:
1. Know why you're training and set goals accordingly. Digging deep and uncovering your underlying exercise motivation for training will help you find the right style of training that will get you to your goal faster with reduced risk of injury.
2. Choose a workout plan that fits your goal and underlying motives. Just because a workout looks hardcore or kickass or cool doesn't mean it's appropriate for your goals. Choose the best routine for YOUR goals always.
3. Be present! Take your time and focus on the journey (progress) instead of the destination (results). It's o.k. to want results and to work for them but focus on improving where you are right now instead of getting ahead of yourself and rushing ahead of your ability.
4. Adapt every exercise and workout to your level your ability your skill set your limitations. It's tempting to try really advanced exercises and movement patterns. I know because I've done that and payed dearly with injury pain and slow progress. Train smarter not just harder.
5. Don't just do it, do it better. Focus on improving your technique and all else will fall into place. Doing it right is more important than training heavier harder faster or more often. Your body will respond to the right stimulus not just to more of everything.
It's unfortunate that many of us get injured enjoying our favorite activities or exercises but the good news is you can still keep training while injured if you make some adjustments to your routine and focus on rehab as much as you do on improving your fitness level or bodyfat or body shape. Here's a few things that can help you heal and workout while injured.
1. Consult a P.T. or corrective exercise specialist. Their guidance is invaluable and will help you avoid other injuries. In 2010 when my hip was so swollen I could barely walk I consulted with a neuromuscular therapist who introduced me to kinesio tape and I also consulted with a post physical therapy trainer at our studio and just two sessions with him made ALL the difference. I could not have healed my hip if it wasn't for his guidance.
Something as simple as the back pain exercises in this video can make every bit of difference when it comes to recovering from an injury and a couple of sessions with a specialist will cost you less in the long run than invasive surgeries or long term physical therapy.
2. Get yourself out of pain before you start training again. Use every tool available to get yourself pain free including KT tape, foam roller, massage therapy, corrective exercise, anti-inflammatory gels, muscle soothing bath salts, corrective stretching. Training with pain is just stupid and pointless and will only lead to more injury so be sure to reduce swelling, inflammation and eliminate muscle pain before you start training again.
3. Restructure your fitness plan to include plenty of rehab for your injury. My hip rehab took 11 months so imagine how much fat I could have gained if I had not been training all that time. My fitness routine included daily hip rehab, moderate paced walking, pilates, yoga, glute work and a few days of total body exercises that did not aggravate my hip so no squatting jumping lunging jump rope step ups stair sprints or any of the stuff I usually do. It was nothing like my normal routine but it helped me maintain at 120 lb and not gain too much bodyfat.
Once the rehab was over and I got back to more intense workouts the bodyfat came off fast and ended up losing an additional 10 lb plus my endurance and strength increased quickly. Don't underestimate the power of rehab combined with more gentle exercise. It may not keep you at peak fitness levels but it will maintain enough of your fitness that when you get back to your regular routine you'll be back your fittest level fast!