By Chrissy MacDonald
Injuries can happen by jumping into an exercise program too fast and without proper planning. Just like building a house, we need to build a solid foundation when starting a new activity or sport. Increase the intensity of an exercise gradually.
Before you start a weight training program, for example, make sure your joints are strong and stable and able to handle the additional weight. Practice the exercise in front of a mirror to make sure you are using the proper technique. Start by doing one set of an exercise for each muscle group at a light weight. Increase the intensity gradually by adding more weight every couple of weeks. Doing too much too soon can result in sore muscles, aching joints and frustration.
If you want to run, first practice walking faster for longer periods of time. This is building a solid base. When you’re comfortable walking regularly at a good brisk pace, start inserting one minute runs into your walks (or even 30 seconds to start) until you can go longer. It’s important to plan this increase gradually so the knees are not put under sudden stress. It’s also easier on the heart and lungs.
If an exercise doesn’t feel right or causes any type of pain, stop and re-evaluate what you are doing. You should never feel pain while doing an exercise. If your neck hurts when doing abdominal crunches, you are either doing it incorrectly or it is just not a good exercise for you. There are many ways to strengthen the abdominal muscles without lifting your neck off the floor. Check out Pilates which focuses on strengthening the core of the body – the back and abdominal muscles which form a “girdle” around the middle.
When starting a new exercise program, be patient and start slowly. Learn the proper technique and add intensity gradually to help ensure a safe and productive workout with less risk of injury.