Sports injuries are about the fastest way to derail your workout gains and lose all the hard work you’ve put into the gym. Whether you’re a competitive athlete, hobby lifter, bodybuilder, or even just an everyday gym goer, staying healthy is imperative if you want to keep moving forward. Below are five tips you can implement to avoid sports injuries as much as possible.
Warm Up Properly
Many sports injuries are caused / allowed to happen because the trainee goofs up their warmup. Either they do the wrong thing, don’t warm up at all, or spend so much time warming up that they don’t have proper effort or focus left for the main part of their workout.
Warmups don’t need to be overly complicated. Starting with a dynamic warmup, then doing a few buildup sets prior to your first movement or two is usually more than enough. Buildup sets on subsequent exercises may or may not be needed, depending on your overall workout structure and how many muscle groups you’re training in a single session.
Utilize Proper Form
This should be a “no brainer”, but many trainees suffer sports injuries simply because they don’t lift properly. Sometimes this is because they have horrible technique and are trying to lift too heavy, too early. Sometimes it’s because they’re just not concentrating on what they’re doing. An example would be if you’ve ever seen a novice lifter bench pressing or squatting and every rep looked different.
While you might think more weight, more volume, or more whatever is the key to more progress, if you can’t utilize near perfect form all the time, you’re probably going to end up injured. You’d be way better off backing the weight down, increasing the concentration, and developing the muscle memory needed to execute every exercise as perfectly as possible. Otherwise the only thing you’ll be working out is your ego.
Watch Out for Crazy Accidents
Sports injuries can occur when you’re pushing yourself to the limit, trying to eek out one last rep or add an extra 5lbs to your 1RM. However, crazy accidents where someone just isn’t being careful can – and should – be avoided.
Make sure you’re not using too much weight on a new exercise you’ve never done with overly technical form. Keep your lifting area clean and clear of debris. Don’t engage in activities that are too acrobatic, ballistic, or balance-oriented when they’re just not necessary. Simply put, when you train smart, you’ll also find that equates to training safe.
There’s no unwritten set of lifting rules somewhere that say your feet have to be in a certain position, your hands a certain width apart, or that you have to use a certain grip. Unless you’re preparing for a lifting competition, modifying movements such that they fit your body type by altering stance, grip, or apparatus can go a long way toward avoiding sports injuries. Don’t try to force your body into what, for it, might be an unnatural or hurtful movement pattern or range of motion.
Watch for Muscular Imbalances
Your right side being stronger than your left, your chest and shoulders being stronger than your upper back, and your hips being stronger than your glutes and hamstrings are all examples of muscular imbalances. These imbalances can easily lead to sports injuries because either you’re eventually going to burn out a muscle from overuse or when you end up needing to rely on an under-developed muscle, you won’t be able to.
You’re always better served taking the time to address any muscular imbalances you might have, which can be addressed a number of ways. This could include putting your stronger muscle groups on maintenance mode, doing more volume for weaker muscles, or striving to improve muscular activation.
In general, sports injuries are common. However, they are fairly preventable, too. Make sure your body is properly aligned, warmed up, and you’re using ranges of motions / movement patterns comfortable to you. Don’t try to do too much, too quickly on new movements. Minimize any muscular imbalances, and train in a safe environment. You might not avoid getting hurt forever, but the chances it happens will radically decrease.