This weekend was a rough one for me! I went for a 7-mile run around NYC with some friends on Saturday & during the run I felt…Empowered! Rejuvenated! Confident!
But afterwards? Oh afterwards!
I haven’t run that long of a distance in a LONG time, so on Sunday my body felt as stiff as a board. My quads, calves and core muscles were as tight as ever! As my bemused boyfriend watched me hobble around his apartment, I was still thankful that all I felt was soreness & that I hadn’t pushed my body too far. So it got me thinking about the difference between pushing to your limit and past your limit when working out.
Here are my tips on how to avoid exercise injury:
1. Pay attention to your form.
If you’re fatigued during your workout, form is one of the first things that will suffer. And when you’ve got bad form, it’s an open invitation for injury! Whether it’s cardio work (running, biking, swimming, etc.) or weight training, be sure that your posture and technique during the exercise haven’t faltered. If they have, take a short break and then jump back in. For me, this meant walking for a little bit to catch my breath before starting up my run again.
2. Take a “long view” of your workout.
If you know that you’re in for a challenging workout, take a long view! Don’t shoot off at a uber-fast pace if you know that you’ll be running for longer than usual and can’t sustain that speed. Think about your body’s energy and capacity as something that you want to spread out (relatively) evenly throughout your workout routine- especially if you’re going to be working out for a long period of time. You want to feel the burn, not burn out.
3. Stretch, stretch and then stretch!
So this was something that I didn’t do and I paid for it on Sunday!! Stretch before, during and after your workout- it is SUPER important. Give your body a good stretch once you’re warm (say, 5-10minutes into your workout). This will make your body more flexible and limber to prevent injury. If you need it, try stretching again 15-20minutes into your workout when you’re feeling even more warmed up. At the end of your workout you want to stretch again, really making sure to hit the lower body (quads, hamstrings, calves) and upper body (biceps, triceps, upper/lower back). And if you have time/access, try stretching in a sauna or steam room- trust me, it helps.
My last point: listen to your body! If you’re really feeling fatigued, slow down your exercise and take a break! The goal should be to make your body stronger by pushing just a little bit more in each workout, not too much!
*** How do you avoid workout injury? What signs do you look for? ***