10 Strategies to Reduce Injury in a Training Program
It seems that more and more people are suffering from chronic pain, injury and aching bodies. From knee and low back pain, to shoulder and hip pain, these instances can be reduced and better yet eliminated with smart training and recovery tactics. Below are 10 strategies that can help you reduce injury and pain:
1. Foam roll and stretching. Improving the tissue quality of your muscles can dramatically change the way you move, recover and live life. Tissue quality is the foundation of movement and fitness. Lack of flexibility in the muscles limits your range of motion, causing other areas of the body to compensate, thus causing pain and/or injury. You need to take time out of your schedule to focus on improving the tissue quality of the muscle. For every decade you have been alive is the days per week you should be implementing this portion (a 50 year old should foam roll/stretch 5 days a week).
2. Smart training principles. It’s not about how hard you train but how smart you train. Hard and erratic training leads to injury and inconsistent results. Smart and efficient training leads to massive improvement and an injury free body. Don’t live by the motto, “more is better”. We want you working and getting results but that doesn’t mean pushing the body past the barrier that will lead to injury. What did you do last week and what is your plan next week? Start logging all of your workouts and create a long-term training plan that will put you on the path to a healthy and fit body.
3. Proper Dynamic warm-up. Every single training session should start with a thorough dynamic warm-up. Preparing the body for the work ahead is a crucial tactic to reducing injury. Too many people just start their workout without activating the system beforehand. This warm-up should increase heart rate, elongate muscles, mobilize joints and wake up the nervous system. Without a warm-up you increase your chances of injury during your workout.
4. Strength training. Learning how to strength train can assist you in every aspect of your life. Implement full body, multi-joint movements that will increase your function and way of life. Hire a qualified strength coach to help you design a proper program that fits your needs and goals.
5. Consistent Sleep. You will eventually wear down if you are not sleeping consistently. You are in full recovery mode when your body is at rest. If you are lacking solid sleep at night, it doesn’t matter how smart or efficient your training program is because you will not fully recover and you will tax the nervous system and eventually breakdown.
6. Proper nutrition. High-level nutrition equates to high-level performance. If you are consuming empty calories, high fattening foods and inadequate fuel, your body will not be at its best level. You risk breakdown and depletion with this type of nutrition plan. The majority of your food consumption should come from nutrient and fiber dense foods like fruits, vegetables, and legumes. Add in lean protein sources like chicken, fish, eggs and low fat milk and quality fats like avocado, raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, etc.) and heart healthy oils. A good food plan will enhance your recovery, give you energy, and keep you at your optimal level.
7. Do not randomly train. One day you hit a group class, one day you run, one day you do P90x and one day you lift weights. Randomized training can definitely put you on the path to injury and pain. You will have a more successful training program when you have a plan of action and create a progressive plan to build your fitness week by week.
8. Know your limits. This is a big one. When you push past your boundaries you dramatically increase your chances of injury. I am not saying you shouldn’t push yourself, but if everyday you have extreme soreness and you are not allowing full recovery, you will eventually end up hurt. Our bodies are very resilient but when constantly pushed beyond its limits, you force breakdown and
9. Corrective exercise. We all have imbalances and weaknesses and its imperative to put focus on improving those weak links in the body. Understanding your movement dysfunction can help you devise a corrective exercise program that will enhance each weak link. If you have hypermobility issues then you need more strength and stability work. If you lack mobility and flexibility then you need more range of motion drills. Have a qualified specialist assess your movement and then implement “corrective” drills daily to give you a more functional and injury free body.
10. Drink plenty of water. As simple as it sounds, this is crucial to remaining healthy and injury free. When the body is in dehydration mode, your immune system starts breaking down, you risk getting sick and body wears down. The body needs water to work at high levels. Just by drinking adequate amounts of water you can see changes in your performance, decrease pain and injury and enhance your overall way of life.