It doesn’t get any simpler than this – Injury Prevention begins with utilizing Common Sense.
Yes, I went there. One would think that preventing injuries ought to be based upon sheer luck, placing blame outwards, or karma (Wouldn’t that be a kicker?)
Yet, you know me – I just get straight to the point. So here it is.
Tips For Preventing Training Related Injuries
#1 – Use your brain.
Educate your mind about proper training form, methods, nutrition etc. Make GOOD decisions about what you are about to take on in your training.
If you haven’t worked out in several months, doing a long workout at full blast isn’t going to end well. Even if you survive the workout – you are going to feel it in the following couple of days.
If you are being stupid and trying to show up your buddies or impress that person over there and physically are not ready to perform at a higher level – don’t. You will screw up, look like a fool and likely hurt yourself.
If you are sick and try to keep up with your race training and think working out for 2-3 hours isn’t going to bite you in the arse – wrong. (Side note – if you train right you know to continue training lightly and for short time periods while dealing with things like common colds and just getting over an illness. Light workouts actually help clean the body out and at the same time allow your body to both heal and keep moving).
#2 Make smart Decisions.
This reverts back to #1 and using that brain of yours. If it doesn’t sound like a good idea – it probably isn’t. Unless you are a true athlete who prepares ahead of time how to train in unique situations, health conditions, challenges – just make smart decisions. Raise the bar for your body’s output at regular intervals, create realistic challenges and goals for you to work towards and achieve.
Ex: There is a difference between an 5 time marathoner running 5 miles with a cold vs, an out of shape newbie runner trying to run 3-5 miles with a cold.
There is a difference between a pro athlete (we hope anyways) trying something they’ve never done before and starting out on it at an advanced level. Compared to Joe Schmoe who shows up at the gym with three of his pals who only work out occasionally and they all see how many heavy plates they can add to the bar to lift for an ego boost.
A veteran athlete will be just fine finding new challenges (and intentionally seeks them out) in which to test the limits of their bodies vs Jane Doe doing her first 5k – rather slowly and signing up later that day for her first marathon or ironman triathlon. [If you miss the point of this example – stick around and check out my upcoming EBook The Point of the Marathon.]
# 3 Proper planning and training prevents injuries.
Listen to your coaches, trainers, veteran training partners and stick to your training plan. Be wise in creating your training plan. Be wise in you decide is worth following – they may not actually know what the hell they are doing and talking about.
Read my post My Gym Just Did What? and stick around this summer – The Point of the Marathon is a firecracker of a book to read where I discuss how to make good decisions for training, doing business and finding great leaders to follow.
Ex: If your training plan (or coach) tells you not to do something quite YET, listen. There is usually solid reasoning behind their instructions. Hmm, like the fact you are not quite ready for that next challenge yet and if you do it anyways you might injure yourself (and get that “I told you so.” look for the next six months).
Success requires right thinking and solid planning and preparation. Put the time and effort into researching and creating a fitness/training plan that is in fact challenging – but realistic for your present level. Success takes time and patience. And smarts.
#4 Tune up your listening skills.
As previously mentioned – listen to the advice and instruction of your coaches and veteran training partners.
In addition, it is vital that you become in tune with your body, mindset and what is going on in your life. This takes a bit of trial and error but is a major asset to crossing over from a beginner to intermediate/advanced athlete. Your mindset directly impacts everything else in your life – especially your body.
If your mind doesn’t believe you can do it, or what you are about to do isn’t a good idea to try, your body will follow those inclinations. On the flip side – once you have a finely trained mind – your body can endure and overcome just about everything.
Your life’s events and the functioning of your life and its components (relationships, career etc) also directly affect your body and it’s ability to perform.
Ex: If you sit all day and do little exercise – you lose muscle mass, cardio endurance etc. If you have a stressful life – you need more exercise to burn it off in healthy way. (Did you know that exercise is an incredible stress reducer?)
#5 Tune In To Your Body
A real key to injury prevention is learning to listen to what your body is telling you.
There are two ends of the spectrum here.
On one end you have the unfit, overweight, out of shape, maybe just getting started with exercise individual. This person has no idea what the aches, pains, tightness of muscles, fatigue actually means. This is where applying tips 1-4 come into play. Over time you build an understanding with your body and learn to hear what it is telling you.
The opposite end is the uber fit high level athlete who is so in tune with their body they know exactly when to push, where to push harder, how to cross train if something is off kilter (heading towards a potential injury), when to rest, when to take it easy (that short easy run with a cold), and when to go full throttle.
Sometimes an ache or pain is actually a great thing – it means you challenged your body just right and required more out of it than what it is used to. Yes, I said it. There is such a thing as good soreness. And real athletes actually strive for creating it – this means they pushed hard enough to require the body to step up and get better.
The veteran athlete has learned over time how to differentiate between the body telling the mind “That was a great workout – give me a day or two of rest/light exercise and let’s do it again!” vs. “Hey dude, that sharp stabbing pain means we tweaked something, something is about to tear or break and uh – Seriously! Ice please! Ice and rest and maybe a trip to the doc if this pain hasn’t gone away within a day or so.”
If you are not a veteran athlete that’s ok! Use the example I just talked about to help you slowly learn how to listen to what your body is telling you.
Sharp pains, especially if they continue while you are resting/reclining/not moving – is serious – it means you totally overdid it and perhaps actually injured yourself. Use caution during the next 24-48 hours and take it easy.
But those normal aches, the soreness that happens after a solid workout – it is part of making your body stronger and more durable. So don’t be intimidated by them. Don’t let a wee bit of soreness become an excuse as to why you cannot do any exercising at all.
If you are just getting started, you might experience several months of discomfort, soreness, fatigue and tightness. To be frank it’s your own fault for not getting your body moving and doing more in the first place. So don’t quit. Keep moving!
The human body was created to move – a lot!
Go back and combine all these tips to help keep you moving forwards and upwards!
Check out my related article – Making the Most of Active Recovery Days for tips on how to utilize different types of exercises for cross training purposes and injury prevention.
*Disclaimer. I am not a physician. Obviously in tip #1 you are to utilize common sense. If you fail to use any of these tips for improving your training, performance, fitness levels and overall health – it’s on you, not me. Success requires right thinking, solid decision making skills and the ability to act wisely. Applying these tips and making it a point to remember them is a great booster for improving your health, fitness and training program and is not a guarantee of your success.
*The fact I had to add a disclaimer to this article speaks multitudes. Yes, it’s ornery, it’s also all common sense.
Are you ready to being living life at a higher level?
Check out my EBook The Point of the Marathon – A Metaphor for Success.
A surefire way to raise the bar personally, professionally and powerfully improve your life.