A Note from Dr. Brandon-
Exercise is something we should all be doing. Dr. Natalie and I try to make sure we set aside time each day to do some healthy moving. There are two things you can do all the time, every day, without a health professional around: one is to eat well and the other is to exercise. We like different things and find different ways to exercise. We enjoy Crossfit training and taking the dogs on trail runs.
You may not like any of these forms of exercise. Your favorite exercise might be yoga or swimming or jogging. The key is really to find something you like and to do it. I recommend finding two things and doing them on different days so your routine varies from day-to-day.
Now, we are all different. You might not be able to run three miles a day or even get to the gym on a regular basis, but you should still be thinking about getting your body moving. Walking 30 minutes a day can make a big difference. That is what we encourage at Exodus Chiropractic Charlotte.
Frequently I hear Dr. Natalie saying, “Sitting to your spine is like sugar to your teeth!” It’s a constant reminder of how important movement is to a healthy life.
One of the things we see regularly in our office on Northcross Drive in Huntersville is people who have been exercising improperly and have hurt themselves. As you can imagine, we see a lot of knee, hip, and joint injuries, sprains, lower back problems, and so much more. Injuries happen. Sometimes we move in the wrong way or we push our bodies too hard. We want you to be able to move functionally for a long time to come.
We are here to help you stay fit and stay healthy. That’s what our office is all about. So while you are out exercising or moving, I want to make sure we give you the tools you need to do it properly.
This article will give you eight tips you can use to make sure you stay healthy while you’re exercising. My recommendation is that if you’re new, you start slow. For those who are very active, make sure you are stretching and wearing the right clothes. I also want you to be realistic about what you’re doing — listen to your body. Enjoy this article and let me know what you think and how you’re implementing these ideas into your exercise routines. Remember: no matter your ability, make sure you are doing something. If you need ideas, see me in the office. I’ll be glad to talk with you.
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8 Ways to Avoid The Top 5 Common Crippling Exercise Injuries
© 2012 Health Realizations, Inc.
Regular workouts can help you prevent heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer. They promote healthy blood sugar levels, improve your mood and energy levels, help control your weight, promote healthy bone density, and more.
In other words, there’s no shortage of benefits to hitting the gym or taking a brisk stroll or two around your block on a daily basis. That’s why experts recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five or more days per week.
However, exercise, by its very nature, can also put you at risk of injury, especially if you’re new to working out or carrying excess weight. Even the most seasoned exercisers can find themselves with injuries from overuse of joints, accidental falls, or improper technique.
Exercise Injuries: How Common are They?
In 2008, close to 1,500 people visited U.S. emergency rooms due to injuries they received while using treadmills, weights, elliptical machines, or other exercise equipment, a Consumer Products Safety Commission report found. However, they suggest that many exercise-related injuries are never reported, making the real number as high as 50,000.
Likewise, from 1990 to 2007, there were more than 25,000 weight-training injuries seen in U.S. emergency rooms, according to a study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, with sprains and strains the most common diagnosis. Most often, injuries occurred from weights dropping on the person.
Injuries occur even in more “gentle” exercise regimens, such as yoga. In 2006, there were 4,459 yoga-related injuries in the United States, a report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission found.
What are the Most Common Exercise Injuries?
The most common injuries related to yoga, according to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), are caused by repetitive strain to and overstretching of the neck, shoulders, spine, legs, and knees.
Ironically, the very same things that provide your body the benefits during exercise — the stretching, holding, moving, balancing, and flexing — can also lead to injury if you try to do too much, too quickly, or overuse the same muscle repeatedly.
While many exercise injuries are minor, they can be severe, leading to serious back or limb injury or requiring surgery. According to Kaiser Permanente, the most common exercise injuries are:
1. Knee joint injuries: Sprains, torn cartilage, tendonitis, and arthritis.
2. Lower back injuries: Muscle tears, sprains and strains, ruptured discs, and stress fractures of the lower back.
3. Shoulder rotator cuff injuries: Tears and swelling can occur in the muscles and tendons of the shoulder joint, especially after activities such as swimming or pitching.
4. Hamstring muscle injuries: Tight hamstrings can easily be injured, especially while sprinting or jumping.
5. Calf muscle injuries: Calf muscles can be torn or pulled during exercise, especially during sudden movements, such as quickly changing direction in a tennis game.
How to Protect Your Body From Exercise Injuries
The benefits of regular exercise far outweigh the risks of injury, but it’s still important to use safe and smart exercise habits to lower your injury risk. Fortunately, many exercise injuries are preventable by following steps below.
(Proper form is essential to preventing exercise injuries. If you’re not sure how to use a piece of equipment or perform an exercise, ask an expert to show you.)
1. Find a qualified trainer. Before you embark on any exercise program, invest in at least a few sessions with a personal trainer. He or she can teach you the proper intensity, technique, and form to keep your workout both safe and effective. This is sometimes a hard task and is another reason I recommend Crossfit to people of all ages and fitness levels. They have proper training and are usually passionate coaches.
2. If you’re a beginner, start out very slowly. You must begin your workouts gradually, or you risk burnout or injury. Begin by walking a mile or two, then gradually increase your pace and distance. After you feel your body beginning to shape up, you can start with other forms of higher intensity exercise.
3. Warm up first. You should warm up by jogging in place or doing jumping jacks or other vigorous activity to warm up your muscles, tendons, and ligaments. As Dr. Mehmet Oz said on DoctorOz.com:
Before beginning any exercise, warm up your muscles for about 5 minutes to prevent injury. Remember, your muscles are like spaghetti strands, and they’re pliable when they’re warm (and more injury-prone if they’re not). Jogging, brisk walking, cycling, or doing exercises with light or no weight will help prepare your muscles for activity. One good rule: Do the same exercise you will be doing but at a slower pace or with lighter weight. Your goal is to move your joints through the same range of motion as they will do with exercise — to raise your heart rate and to increase the temperature of your muscles (which will make them more viscous and less likely to be injured).
4. Stretch regularly. Stretching will help increase your flexibility, reduce muscle tension, improve your circulation, and help prevent injuries if you do it on a regular basis. Ideally, you should incorporate stretching into your workout right after your warm-up and again after your workout.
At this time, your muscles are warm and more elastic, and stretching increases your flexibility and maximizes the range of motion around your joints. You should stretch all the major muscles groups that you used during your workout.
What about stretching during your exercise routine? The rule of thumb is: if you feel tight, go ahead and do a gentle stretch, then return to your workout.
5. Be realistic. Getting into shape takes time, so don’t expect to run a marathon after your first week of training. Be realistic about what to expect, and you’ll begin to feel changes in your body and endurance within a few weeks. You also need to be realistic about how often you can exercise. It’s probably not wise to go from zero exercise to a six-day-a-week exercise schedule. Try starting out with two or three days a week instead, and be sure to give your body time to recover between your workouts.
6. Wear appropriate clothing and gear. Tight, stiff clothing can restrict your movements, so if you need a wide range of motion, choose loose-fitting clothing. Likewise, if you’re a runner, invest in high-quality running shoes to help protect your feet and joints; if you’re a mountain-biker, be sure you have the appropriate helmet and other protective gear on.
7. Listen to your body. If something feels too hard or painful, don’t do it. If you’re overly sore or short of breath, back off on the intensity. If you don’t feel well one day, remember that it’s OK to take a day off.
8. Vary your workouts. One day try a beginner’s kickboxing class at your gym. The next, go for a long, brisk walk with a friend. Then try a yoga class or weight-lifting. Varying your workouts gives muscle groups time to recover and ensures they won’t become weak and prone to overuse injuries. It also ensures that you’re working all of your muscle groups and getting all the benefits that exercise has to offer.
Get Fit and Healthy Without Injury
A fitness program that begins gradually and builds in intensity to challenge your muscle groups safely and effectively is best for preventing injury. Ideally, your workouts should be regular, not sporadic, so they condition your body for optimal performance.
In your quest for fitness, we highly recommend seeking out a personal trainer of your own, but if you don’t have the time or money to do so, look into local gyms or health clubs with qualified personnel who can guide you to work out safely, avoid exercise injury, and achieve the fitness goals you’re really after.
The American Journal of Sports Medicine, April 2010 Vol. 38, No. 4, 765-771 USAToday.com, February 22, 2010
The American Academy of Orthpaedic Surgeons