Remember the last time you were at the gym wincing in pain, not when lifting heavy weight but after pulling a muscle in your lower torso performing a fairly simple exercise. Fitness and sport are fields that almost everyone has tried at some point in their life, yet so many myths and malpractices continue to rule its learning process. Technique has been grossly overpowered by goals to have an aesthetic body. This in turn has created an environment where functional training is neglected and a seed for future injuries is planted. Let’s see if we can, through this short piece help you change the way you work out, making you a stronger, injury free individual.
Your preparation to work out matters so make sure you have the pre-requisites before you start working out – good shoes, clothing that doesn’t restrict your movements, information about any prior ailments you might have had among others. Also, one must check the intensity of one’s workout according to altitude and weather in your place of workout, for example working out at a higher altitude requires you to work out for a shorter period of time.
STRENGTH & CONDITIONING
When a building or a bridge is built, a major part of the time is spent setting the base for the building process in order to create a stronger structure. A similar process is seen in our body, to build muscle we must set base to build that stronger structure (human being in this case). One of the most important parts of any physical activity is dynamic stretching; dynamic stretching is “stretching as you are moving” and thus, through movement, mobilizing all the muscles in your body that would be used in an activity. Dynamic stretching helps increase range of movement, blood and oxygen flow to soft tissues prior to exertion. Activating your muscles prior to working out not only improves one’s performance but also helps in preventing injury. Yet it is important to note, we try to prevent injury but can’t rule it out completely.
The base of any exercise routine should be functional movements, movements that mimic everyday actions like sitting and getting up, overhead lifting, holding heavy bags and walking, running to name a few.
The technique used while exercising determines most of our bodily reactions, whether it is regular progress or, injury and soreness, surprisingly most of us even run wrong. The correct technique involves moving your knees upward in a high knee movement motion and not merely flicking back or legs like a lot of us do. Another major determinant of good technique is firing rate of muscles, this basically signifies the order in which muscles are activated during a particular movement, for eg: While doing a squat, the correct firing rate is (in order of firing) glutes, hamstring, quadriceps. Minute differences like this make major functional differences in our body.
Many of us are easily impressed by the way a gym or a trainer looks, it is important to understand these aren’t the correct parameters to judge where you should workout. The knowledge of a trainer should be the first and foremost determinant of choosing a guide. Precautions are always better and hence we suggest that whatever exercises you do, you should go home and cross check with online sources of reputed trainers, this will only make you more knowledgeable and aware of the way your body functions. Do weekly or bi-monthly assessments of your progress, you should not move too fast when it comes to lifting heavier weights or performing other intensity based activities.
Some other pointers that would help you prevent injury – avoid over training, give your body the adequate rest so that muscles can recuperate; listen to your body, if it says it can’t go any further, then stop, no pain, no gain does not apply here; don’t be competitive with those around you, they have a different body type and could have more resistance, stamina, adaptability.
Always remember, if used without the correct guidance and supervision, machines are not your friends. But your body is, so listen to it.
Hope to see you a fitter and injury free individual soon!