Thinking about it, over the last 18yrs+, I’ve had muscle injury or strain in almost every part of my body. My left shoulder, right hip, left elbow, right foot, right shoulder blade, right shin, and left foot. If you exercise regularly, I think it’s inevitable not to have some ache or pain somewhere on your body. The older we are the more we are at risk of injury if we are not careful.
I remember when my son was about 6 years old, I hurt my neck at the hairdresser’s when I put my head back over the sink to wash my hair. The pain was excruciating. Afterwards, a tiny neck movement would send an electric shock like pain through my head, neck and upper body. It was so bad I couldn’t do anything for a few days and it took a long time (months) to completely heal. A few days after hurting my neck, I was standing at the primary school gate, one of the mothers (who was a doctor), noticed my discomfort and asked me what was wrong with my neck. I told her what had happened and she said keeping it still won’t help, that I needed to move it around even though it was painful.
I had been avoiding moving my neck to minimise the pain. It was as if the slightest movement would make the injury worse. What the doctor told me remained with me over the years. I’ve since done quite a few fitness courses and I know a bit about rehab and what to do when injured.
Going back to talking about the injuries I’ve had in the past, I’ve never let an injury stop me from exercising. If I feel pain in my elbow, I work my legs, if the pain is in my leg, I work my back or arms or Abs. It’s really that simple, which is why I use the hashtags #keepmoving #anywhichwayyoucan, because complete inactivity is a no no, we can always do something no matter how small.
Yeah, there are exceptions, like when you’ve been training really hard and your whole body needs a rest to enable it to continue to perform efficiently, but even then, active recovery is encouraged not immobility.
In my younger years, I can’t say I trained smart all the time. There were days that I over trained, under recovered (didn’t stretch), pushed myself too hard, and did exercises with poor form because of ignorance or being in a rush.
At my current age, I’m a lot more sensible with regards training. Even though my fitness level is above average for my age, if I don’t take care and I get injured, my body won’t bounce back from injury like it did 10 years ago, so I don’t do stupid things like jumping over stability balls anymore (though I only fell once when I did it). Today, I train smarter with more focus on my form and taking it slow, I don’t pack too much in one day and I stay off my phone till the end of my workout as it’s very important to keep my mind on the activity I’m doing and the muscle I’m working (mind muscle connect).
I’ve heard people my age talk about not working out because they don’t want to injure themselves. I find this amusing. The older we are, the more we are at risk of getting injured if we DON’T keep our bodies conditioned. Our muscles become weak from lack of use, this affects our mobility, stability and posture. The human body was designed to move, if we don’t workout because we might hurt ourselves, and our job is sedentary, age related injuries are inevitable.
What we should be doing is exercising smart – judging our limits, lowering the intensity, pacing ourselves, and recovering well.
Here are a few tip to help you avoid injury when exercising.
Warming up properly to raise your heart rate, increasing blood flow in your muscles and loosen joints is a way to avoid prepare the body for the task at hand and avoid injury. This is something I do religiously. The acronym RAMP is used for the 3 stages of effective warm up.
Raise – elevate body temperature, heart rate, respiration blood flow, circulation, joint fluid viscosity.
Activate muscle groups and Mobilise joints.
Potentiation – doing exercises that will lead to improved performance in the type of exercise you are doing.
Use your warm up to mentally and physically prepare for your workout.
Focus on form
Workout with correct posture to minimise injury. Learn how to do exercises properly. Take it slowly, focus on the muscle you are working, don’t rush through your workout. Don’t pack too many exercises into your workout if you know you can’t fully commit to concentrating on what you’re doing.
Recovery and Rest
Take the time to stretch or foam roll properly after each workout. I stretch when I wake up, I stretch after my workout and I sometimes stretch during the day. This improves my mobility and helps my muscles recover after a workout.
Hydration and Nutrition
Food is fuel. Good nutrition improves recovery and enhances your performance. Drink lots of water before and after your workout. Make sure the timing is right and you have the right macro balance. You need protein to repair and build muscle tissue, make sure you are eating enough protein.
Not getting enough sleeps affects our body’s ability to perform efficiently. Sleep is vital for muscle recovery. Sleep depreviation leads to tired muscles and tired muscles will not adequately support, tendons, ligaments and bones which will put you at risk of sprains, strains and stress fractures.
Thank you for reading. I hope you found this post useful. I’m passionate about helping people live a confident, vibrant life full of energy and vitality.
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