Whether brand new or seasoned veteran, one of the most common reasons for people to stop an exercise routine is injury. Injury can interrupt a successful exercise program, or it can ruin your first gym experience.
So let’s get right down to it… Here they are.
#1 – Bad Form on a Cardio Machine
There’s no excuse to slouch on a cardio machine. Not only does it throw off your body’s alignment, it interferes with the workout itself. Blood just pumps much better when your back is straight. So stand (or sit) straight and proud while you’re hitting the bike or treadmill. Whatever it is you have to read or watch will still be there when you’re finished.
#2 – Over-Stressing Your Shoulders
Our shoulders may seem like powerhouses capable of taking some abuse, but a shoulder injury is there to stay. It’s best not to take the chance with exercises that over-stress the shoulders, especially when other options exist. Avoid any lifting or pulling behind the head (i.e. military presses or lateral bar pull downs). The upright row pinch nerves, too, so find a safe alternative. Military presses and pull downs can be done in front of the body, while front or lateral raises can easily substitute the upright row.
#3 – Bending the Knees Too Much
A knee injury is absolutely miserable. You’re reminded of it every time you’re moving around, so take care of those joints. As a general rule, never over-bend the knees, especially if you’re putting any weight on them. An over bend is ninety degrees of more. And if you’re over-bending due to muscle fatigue, it’s a good idea to reduce the weight.
#4 – Isolating Only Target Body-Parts
It’s a myth that targeted exercises burn fat in targeted areas. I’d thought this myth had been busted long ago, but apparently it’s going strong. Crunches DO NOT trim belly fat. Leg raises DO NOT burn thigh fat. No more than any other exercise, anyways. And over-working any area can lead to injury. Instead of targeted weight-loss, work toward total body fitness. And increased muscle mass improve your metabolism, which lets you burn fat faster just by sitting there.
#5 – Appropriate Clothing Is… Appropriate
This includes one “don’t” and one “do.” The don’t is this: don’t wear a weight belt unless necessary. If it’s been recommended by a medical professional or you’re lifting VERY high weights, it’s not helping. In fact, it’s preventing your core muscles from getting a workout.
The “do” is to wear appropriate footwear. If you spend money on nothing else, make sure it’s a pair of shoes. Inadequate shoes can result in injury to feet, legs, hips, back and pretty much anything else. To find the shoes for you, go to an athletic good store and speak to the staff. They will be able to find something suited to your specific needs.
And that’s it. Five simple ways to get the most out of you workout without hurting yourself. Follow these basic guidelines, and I’m sure you’ll have a safer, more comfortable worker for a long time to come.