Injury Prevention

I’ve been a trainer for three plus years and have been an advocate of stretching for just as long. Confession time; I don’t always make the time to stretch. In fact, like everyone else, sometimes I will find any excuse to avoid it. But here’s the thing; focusing a little energy towards stretching prevents injuries and allows me to run 12 hour team races, lift heavy weights and not feel awful after any given workout.
According to a study done at the University of Arkansas, there has been a 35% increase in the number of gym injuries in the past few years. The two primary reasons are insufficient stretching and incorrect form. Incorrect form leads to muscle imbalances, which always increase tension, and that increases our chances of injury. Here are a couple of tips to prevent some common injuries.
The problem: ankle pain. Unfortunately, the problem doesn’t usually stem from the foot. Rather, it starts at the top of the body. Everything from cars to computers causes us to hunch forward and that throws off our center of gravity. Without getting into too much science, the ankle becomes overloaded.
The fix: a professional trainer. This is where a center such as “The Next Step” can help. We repair the cause of the problem and undo muscle imbalances, which in this case results from rounded shoulders. The best way to put you back into a neutral position is to do exercises that will strengthen the back and shoulders and stretches that will release the tightness in the chest.
The problem: knee pain. Knee problems arise from a few different causes. A lot of the time it’s due to one muscle being tighter than another, or once again, the problem could arise from a desk job. Muscles in the hips become weak from not moving, so if you sit all day and then decide to go for a run, your knees are in for an unpleasant surprise. Imagine building a race car that’s strong in the front and back but not so sturdy on the sides. Now send that car into a 500 lap race and you’ll quickly see that stress will cause the frame to twist and torque. All that painful twisting in a human gets directed right into your knees.
The fix: start with lunges. Bending at the hips and ankles will strengthen and stabilize the knee. This combined with other lower body exercises and improvement in posture will alleviate unwanted knee pain.
In summary, the best methods to keep your body injury free are stretching and correct form. Though often avoided, the stretch does not have to be time consuming or painful. Using proper technique will allow your muscles to lengthen and become more flexible, which in turn improves range of motion AND helps prevent injuries. Balance your stretching by using all sides of your legs, torso and arms. This will ensure that no muscle is pulling more on the skeletal system than another. A good session shouldn’t take longer than 12 minutes. By doing this and other exercises correctly, you can enjoy pain-free fitness. If you’re unsure about proper form and or even what you should be doing, see a professional so you can kick your body into gear whatever the time of year.
Written by Bart Richwalski
Certified Personal Trainer    
The Next Step     (219) 218-1415