When you hear ‘injury prevention’ you may think first of athletes. In reality everyone would benefit from investing in good practices to take care of their muscles. Did you know your body has over 600 muscles? Injuring any given muscle could create a major disruption in your day-to-day activities. Some injuries are more difficult to recuperate from than others.
Whether you’re a high school athlete competing for a D-1 school, a retiree looking to stay active, or anyone in between, taking care of your muscles and following tips for injury prevention will help you live a happier and healthier lifestyle.
How Can I Tell If I Have an Injury?
Having muscle soreness after a good workout or a sports game is often common, but you want to be careful you don’t overdo it or have an injury and assume it is routine soreness. It can be difficult to determine the difference between muscle soreness and muscle pain. Generally speaking, if you have muscle soreness, especially after working muscles that aren’t used to the level of intensity, you’ll feel it a day or two after using those muscles. This is referred to as delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).
On the other hand, if you suffer an injury, you’ll usually feel a sharp pain immediately. If you feel uncertain you may try ice packs, moderate rest (vary activities rather than total rest), and gentle stretching. If those don’t help, you may have an injury and you should consider getting checked out. You don’t want to walk around with a torn, sprained, or strained muscle, or joint damage. Don’t try to push through your pain, you could make things much worse.
Essential Tips for Injury Prevention
While it’s impossible to completely prevent an injury, there are many actions you can take to reduce the chances of suffering from one.
Warm Up Prior to Workouts
Plan ample time to warm up for roughly five to 10 minutes prior to exercising or participating in a game. Doing so will increase your heart rate and improve blood flow to muscles. As you wind down your warm-up, integrate some movements that you’ll be using for the rest of your workout or game.
Perform Regular Stretching
Stretching can go a long way toward good muscle health. It gives your muscles more elasticity and prepares them for harder movements. Once you’re warmed up, plan to use a combination of static and dynamic stretches. Preparing your muscles for more intense movement will help reduce the chances of injury.
Start Less Intense and Work Your Way Up
Whatever your activity is, make a concentrated effort to build up your ability to perform. You don’t want to jump into a five-mile run if you haven’t been running or try to lift 50-pound dumbbells if you’re not lifting at all. Start with less intensity and gradually work your way up – aim for roughly five percent increases – as you aim to do more intense workouts.
Save Time for Cool Downs
Many people finish their workouts and then move on to the rest of their day. An important component of injury prevention is to save time to cool down. All you need is about five to 10 minutes of low-intensity movement and then do a few static stretches.
Eat Healthy Foods
Include a variety of healthy foods in your daily diet, including proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats (all of your macronutrients), along with a good balance of important vitamins and minerals your body needs. Try to avoid including too many “bad” fats, high levels of sugars, and too many processed foods in your diet – the latter often contains unhealthy fats, sugars, and high sodium levels. Make sure to drink lots of water every day! Keep those muscles well hydrated.
Listen When Your Body Speaks
As noted above, never try to push or power through pain. If your body is telling you it hurts, listen to it. You might be in the initial stages of injury and by slowing down you can prevent the injury from developing into a full-blown problem. Instead of performing the same movements, take a rest day or engage in cross-training, so you’re working out different muscles. Plan for 1-2 rest days a week to allow your muscles a chance to recover.
Let Phoenix IMC Help You Optimize Your Health
Living an active lifestyle is beneficial, but it can be difficult to upkeep your routines if you find yourself injured. To keep your body balanced and in good health, you want to take care of your muscles. Injury prevention is key to optimizing your muscle health.
Phoenix IMC offers a variety of services to help promote the well-being of your health and body. To learn more about the services our caring and experienced healthcare providers can offer, contact us today or fill out our online appointment request form.