Whether you’re new to fitnessing or a seasoned veteran, there is one thing you can count on: injuries are gonna happen.
PROBABLY NOT, I STRETCH AND STUFF
Well, stretching is great, you should do it after every workout. Not before — it’s not good to stretch when muscles are cold. That’s actually how a lot of injuries can happen. Before a workout you just need to warm-up, with some sort of cardio for 3 – 10 minutes (jump rope, rowing machine, bike, even just inchworms). But making sure you warm-up before and stretch after doesn’t mean you’re injury-proof.
YEAH BUT I DON’T REALLY FALL A LOT EITHER
First of all, good for you. Being born without a center of gravity, I lose my balance on a daily basis (doesn’t usually result in to-the-ground, but plenty of close calls). Anyway, there are two major types of injury: “acute” injuries, which would result from a sudden incident — you would notice the moment that this occurs. The second type is way sneakier, called “overuse.” This is an injury that happens from repeated fitnessing, and may or may not be anything you can prevent. Sometimes it can be from slightly bad form over the course of months, sometimes it’s from your biology (high arches, flat feet, etc), and sometimes it’s just from frequent fitnessing. It happens.
UGH NOW WHAT
Well, A few things I’ll say about injuries.
- First, get that shit checked out. THOROUGHLY. Don’t go to a free doctor who says it’s tendonitis and then 8 months later find out it’s also a torn ligament and 3 torn muscles. This is the worst. Go to a good doctor, and listen to that good doctor. This is your body we’re talking about. Invest in it.
- Err on the side of caution. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Just because you’re on a roll with fitnessing doesn’t mean it’s all over if you take a week or two (or four) off. The best thing you can do for an injury is lay off it while it heals. If you don’t, it could result in permanent injury, so even though you got your gym time in that week, you’re making it harder for you to fitness for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. Think in the long term y’all.
- Learn from it. Don’t be scared to ask a lot of questions of doctors / physical therapists / friends who have had injury / people online. Find out what could have caused it and if there’s anything you can do to prevent it. Sometimes one injury means a surrounding muscle is weak and needs additional work. If that’s the case, WAIT UNTIL YOU’RE HEALED and focus on the weak area to prevent the same injury from coming back. Recurring injuries haunt many, so pay attention.
- Be aware during your workout. You can usually tell if something is a good, burning pain from blasting your pecs, or a bad, sharp pain from straining your neck. Listen to your body. If something feels wrong, make an adjustment. If you’re taking a class and feel something’s off, ask the instructor for a modification (they live for that shit, don’t be shy). You gotta look out for you.
- Find other ways to fitness. When I started out, I was only running. Everyday. After an injury, I had to make adjustments, but it didn’t mean not being able to fitness AT ALL. Just a little differently. And, as we’ve learned, it’s better to avoid straight cardio all the time. Google “working out with [insert injury here]” and you’ll find plenty of exercise suggestions and regimens.
Fitnessing doesn’t just mean eating right and working out. You’ve got to take care of yourself All. The. Way. That means giving your body what it needs, which, on occasion, might be a rest. That being said, if you AREN’T injured, EXERCISE!!!! It’s the best.