To offset our holiday eating, many of us vow to get off the couch and get to the gym more frequently this season. Not only can a good workout help to prevent unwanted weight gain, but it can help us sleep better and give us more energy to take on all those wintertime activities.
Plus, the Cleveland Clinic notes that you can improve your cardiovascular health by exercising for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity for five days a week. But while our intentions may be to improve our health, going too hard can have its consequences. If you sustain an injury while working out, you may be out of commission until after the new year. To avoid that scenario, here’s what you need to know.
Listen to Your Body
One of the best ways to avoid a workout injury is to dismiss the concept of “pushing through the pain.” Instead, tune into what your body is trying to tell you. You might feel the burn or experience soreness after a great workout — and that’s normal. But any pain that feels sharp or uncomfortable isn’t the “hurts so good” type of sensation you’re after.
If you experience the latter, you should stop immediately and consult your doctor. When working with a personal trainer, you should speak up if any of the exercises causes pain (even if it goes away after a time). If you ignore it, you could end up causing micro-tears in your muscles that can cause problems later.
Don’t be afraid to look for an alternative exercise that can work some of the same areas without causing you harm.
Don’t Neglect the Warm Up and Cool Down
No matter what you’ve heard, your body still needs a good warm-up and cool-down to ensure your muscles are ready for your workout. If you don’t prioritize these processes, you can become injured much more easily.
Considering that there are nearly 37.2 million injury-related visits made to the emergency room on an annual basis, you won’t want to put yourself in that position. A position you do want to be in, however, is one that stretches your muscles and primes your body for a workout.
A warmup should include exercises that mimic what you’ll be doing later on. A cool-down should involve holding stretches to release tense muscles. Using a foam roller or massage ball can be of great benefit as well, even several hours after your workout has finished.
Try a Different Workout
If you experience pain on a regular basis and the machines at the gym just won’t cut it, don’t force yourself to do what everyone else is doing. Nearly one-third of all childhood injuries are sports-related; though team sports may be a popular way to exercise, they’re not necessarily the safest.
The same goes for popular workouts you might try as an adult. While they work for some, they may not be right for you. Embrace a less conventional workout routine if that’s what’s best for your body.
Swimming can be a great workout activity for those who deal with arthritis pain or even if you’re in the process of recovering from a workout injury. Basically, it’s easy on the body and it also has some distinct benefits for those who want to reduce their cardiovascular disease rates.
Looking for other low-impact exercises? Tai chi, yoga, and pilates may provide the fitness level you’re looking for without the physical strain.
Don’t Delay Treatment
If you think you might have sustained an injury during a workout, you should seek out medical attention sooner rather than later. Even a visit to your local urgent care center can be extremely illuminating, especially if you might have a muscle sprain or strain.
Since 92% or urgent care centers maintained wait times of 30 minutes or less in 2015, you won’t have to give up an entire afternoon to the cause. The sooner you talk to a doctor or a physical therapist, the sooner you’ll be able to get back to your normal workouts.
If you attempt to do them while you’re injured, you’ll pretty much be guaranteed to make things worse. And ignoring it and forgoing your workouts won’t help your health. Make an appointment or go to a walk-in clinic to get it checked out before you sustain further injury.
There are enough hazards around during the holiday season that can cause injury. Your gym time should be devoted to improving your physical health, rather than putting it in danger. If you feel you’re doing a workout that isn’t good for you, listen to your gut and seek out an alternative.
By keeping these tips in mind, your wintertime workouts should be productive rather than painful.