Quick Tips to Prevent Exercise Injuries
We all waited long enough: Spring has finally arrived. We all know this is exciting since the weather is perfect to go outside for some outdoor activities. Walking around the park, jogging or riding a bike to enjoy this lovely weather could be a good idea to refresh yourself. But one thing to consider is that we need to be careful in order to avoid any kind of injuries. What are some pointers you should keep in mind in order to prevent these common workout injuries?
It’s great that you have decided to do exercise, but your precaution starts well before you actually start moving your body. If you have not been exercising as intensively, then it is important to give your body time to adjust. Increasing the intensity of the activity too quickly is a recipe for disaster, because your body won’t be ready to take the stress from vigorous movement. Make sure you have a basic plan of how much exercise you will do based on your current condition.
Warming up helps to prevent injuries in many ways. It can raise your heart rate, and increase blood flow to all parts of your body. This also means more oxygen is delivered. With warm up, your body temperature rises slightly, your nerve transmission and muscle metabolism increases, and your physical performance improves. Lastly, it gives you time to mentally prepare for the upcoming exercise.
When you start your exercise, your body will start sweating, which is a normal process for your body to cool down. However, in this process you lose water and electrolytes, and it can lead to dehydration. Dehydration during exercise in hot or humid weather can commonly lead to heat illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke, because the body fails to regulate its temperature. Also, dehydration can alter electrolyte concentration in blood, and affect your physical and mental performance, and the body easily gets fatigued.
“No pain, no gain” is a common saying, but it may not be as true when it comes to injury prevention. Soreness after an exercise is normal, but signs such as swelling, sharp or stabbing pain could be indicators for possible injury. Also, if the pain is in joints and not in the muscles, you have to take extra caution. Continuing the exercise through pain can lead to bigger problems so body awareness is key to knowing when to stop or to continue.
Now that you’re done with exercise, now it is time to let your body recover. The reason your body is sore is because when your muscles worked harder than the usual and as a result, microscopic-level damage occurs. Your recovery rate will really depend on how fast these damages can heal, which is eating the right foods. After exercising, you need to replenish the calories and electrolytes you lost, and provide building blocks for your body. Your body recovers the best when you sleep, so sufficient sleep would greatly contribute to the recovery.
Stretching is also a crucial part of recovery. Muscles that worked hard during an exercise are prone to stiffness and tightness. Stiff and tight muscles can reduce circulation, limit supply of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, and slow down recovery. Studies show that stretching can increase joints’ range of movement, which in turn improves joint health by improving joint lubrication. Stretching in general has many benefits to your health, so daily-basis stretching can really take your health to the next level.
Despite all the precautions, unfortunate injuries still can happen. In the case of injury, you can apply a moderate amount of pressure, elevate the area above heart level, and ice the area until the inflammation comes down. It is also a good idea to receive treatment as soon as possible, because the earlier the treatment, the faster the body recovers. Many studies have shown that acupuncture is a highly effective method of treatment for sports and workout-related injuries.
Shawn Kunhee Kim, RTCMP, RAc (Bio)
Registered TCM Practitioner & Acupuncturist
Outside of being a healthcare provider, Shawn has been practicing Kendo, a Japanese martial art for 17+ years. His experience as a competitive athlete led to his interest in sports medicine and rehabilitation and he also aims to help other athletes recover from sports related injuries and improve their performance through TCM.
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