It’s great to be excited about your athletic training program and the progress that you look forward to making over the coming days, weeks, months and years. However, it’s important to reel back that enthusiasm some to ensure that you stay healthy. Think of this as more of a marathon than a sprint. You want to be able to exercise at a high level for the long haul, not just for a short time period.
Perhaps the most important tip is to start slow. One of the quickest ways to experience burnout and injury is by doing too much too soon. For example, if you’re looking to run a 10K race, you would not immediately start going on 3-mile runs if you hadn’t gone running in the past few years other than to catch a bus or a train. In fact, you want to ensure that you can comfortably walk for an hour before you start running. And, once you do start running, take it gradual so that you can get to the start line healthy.
This tip also applies to other types of sports training. If you’re going to start lifting weights, refrain from using your newfound enthusiasm to do too much too soon.
Focus on Nutrition
Nutrition plays a much stronger role in injury prevention than many realize. Of course, many do know that overeating and carrying too much weight can increase the likelihood of injuries occurring as it’s tougher on the knees and other parts of the body to go on a run when more weight is carried.
However, much more than that goes into the impact of nutrition on injury prevention. One thing to avoid is the opposite: undereating. Your body needs calories to repair the tissue damage that occurs and is required during workouts and to build your muscles back up stronger. If you don’t consume enough calories, your body enters a catabolic state, which involves, essentially, muscles eating themselves.
But what’s also so important is what you consume. For example, fat provides significant benefits for those who regularly work out. In fact, a study found that fat intake was the best dietary predictor of injury occurrence in the 86 female runners who were studied.
Also important are the nutrients consumed. Calcium intake is essential to keep bone density high while carbohydrate intake provides the energy necessary to exercise, and protein is one of the most important nutrient factors as far as helping your body repair body tissues and grow stronger muscles.
To get the most out of your workouts and lower your chances of being injured, ensure that the fuel that you are providing it is of sufficient quantity and quality.
Always listen to your body. Of course, it’s understandable to be sore, especially after doing a workout that is of the type or intensity that you haven’t experienced in a while or ever, but you want to ensure that you avoid working out through pain that you shouldn’t be.
Of course, the more experience that you have, the easier that it’ll be to realize what type of pain is normal and what isn’t, but simply keep a running itinerary of what you’re feeling and experiencing. This will help you learn more about your body, and, if you do get injured, thinking back to or looking over your notes of what preceded it will help you prevent it from happening again.
Warm Up and Cool Down
You should not be shocking your body into and out of your workouts. In other words, don’t get off of the couch, walk out your door and immediately start sprinting. You should have periods of warm up and cool down surrounding your workouts. This can be done in a variety of ways.
- Engage in deep breathing.
- Perform gentle stretches. Be especially careful with painful areas. Avoid stretching for more than 20 seconds at a time.
- Use gentle, rhythmic movements.
- Engage in aspects of your workout in a gentler manner at the start and end. Keep the more intense parts towards the middle of your workout period.