In fitness and working out, there is the obvious risk of injuring yourself during any activity, especially when you are extremely active. The chances of injuring your lower extremities during aggressive skiing, coming down on your ankle wrong playing basketball, or even straining your rotator cuff when you try to power lift too much weight overhead – these are all the risks most athletes are willing to take for their sport or activity. However, the more prevalent and dangerous risk for individuals in the gym or on the field, is a risk that is much less dramatic to start and slowly creeps up on you. This risk of injury is due to years of poor form, muscle imbalances, and postural deviations. All of these very common issues cause a slow wearing of the joint(s), often leading to surgery, arthritis, bone-on-bone issues, etc. One of my peers at the gym always says he is less afraid of a client becoming injured during a session than he is afraid of the injuries that uneducated trainers are giving their clients down the road!
In order to minimize this risk I offer you a couple of points to consider when you are working out, playing sports, or taking advice about your fitness program from a random individual or unqualified personal trainer:
(1) Know your body issues, weaknesses, imbalances and plan accordingly – I recommend working with a qualified personal trainer or physical therapist who can take you through a full body assessment before you start any workout program. During this assessment, the trainer/therapist should provide you with information concerning your muscle imbalances (what is weak and needs to be strengthened and what is tight and needs to be stretched). They should also provide you with exercises that are safe for you to currently do as well as progressions of what exercises you can do down the road once your correct posture and muscle balance is restored.
(2) Tweak generic workouts designed for the masses to match YOUR personal body needs – We have all done it. We have picked up a workout magazine and found some hot body model advertising the latest workout program to give you the perfect body and then immediately gone to our own gym and started doing the workout exactly how it is written in the magazine. We are all extremely different individuals, with variable backgrounds, physical issues, goals, injuries, etc. Therefore EVERY single movement we do in the gym should be focused on correcting our body’s weak areas, keeping our tight areas from getting tighter, and moving our programs forward in a positive direction. So whether it is a group spinning class, a group yoga class, or a generic magazine workout program, take a second to make sure the movements assigned match your body’s needs and your own personal goals. If you are unsure, then do not do the movement and ask a qualified professional for assistance or advice.
Yes this may sounds crazy considering people do group fitness and exercise classes every day, but that does not mean they are making the smartest and most efficient decisions on keeping their body safe and moving towards their goals. Use these very simple guidelines above and the risk you run will be far less and your body will thank you for it in the long run!