With Spring in the air, many people want to get in shape or train for upcoming races and competitions. Starting a new physical activity program can improve both your health and your athletic performance, but, before you begin, you should take steps to avoid injuries.
Dr. David Geier, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon
and sports medicine specialist, recently outlined a few of these important steps. Dr. Geier, the director of sports medicine at East Cooper Medical Center, has been the chief tournament physician for the Family Circle Cup women’s professional tennis tournament for seven years and has also served as head team physician for the Charleston Battery professional soccer team. His impressive resume also includes a stint as physician for the USA Rugby and the U.S. women’s national soccer teams during their appearances in Charleston.
Here are some of Dr. Greier’s suggestions:
Find a qualified personal strength and conditioning trainer
When learning any new program, it is a good idea to work with a fitness trainer. Inquire about your trainer’s experience and certification, such as Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), a designation awarded by the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Learn the correct techniques for every movement
Many people hurt themselves by flailing their arms around or lifting weights off the ground awkwardly. Using perfect technique for each exercise can help you prevent injuries, and it will also enhance your results by focusing the stress on the muscles you are trying to build.
Start out slowly
You wouldn’t start running today and compete in a marathon a month from now. However, some people do suffer injuries running in a race for which they haven’t had time to prepare. If you can’t slowly add to your training regimen, you are subject to injuries such as stress fractures that can force you to miss months of training.
For the same reasons, don’t try to lift heavy weights right away
Start out with less weight that you know you can control and perform as many reps as you can. You can gradually increase your weights as you progress.
Stop an exercise when you can no longer control the movement
Pushing yourself to your limit with each exercise will help you grow and improve, but you must be able to control your form. You need to be able to safely control the weight. If you lose your form or if the bar or dumbbell slips, you could suffer a serious injury.
Cross train one or two days each week
Any form of exercise that involves a repetitive motion can lead to injury over time. Repetitive stress on one or a few body parts day after day can build up quickly. For example, jogging seven days a week might not cause any trouble for a few weeks or months, but, if you do it long enough, overuse injuries such as stress fractures or tendinitis are relatively common. Your upper body is no dierent. You don’t necessarily have to give up exercise – just pick a dierent exercise occasionally.
By Eileen Casey