Normally when we embark on a fitness program to improve our health, we are often fueled by pleasant thoughts of a newer improved self, with stronger muscles, more flexibility, smaller waist, and fewer pounds on the body.

Normally when we embark on a fitness program to improve our health, we are often fueled by pleasant thoughts of a newer improved self, with stronger muscles, more flexibility, smaller waist, and fewer pounds on the body. 

These thoughts can sometimes motivate us to surge forward, full steam ahead towards our prize of improved health.  This drive can assist us in starting or maintaining a fitness regimen, however we must also be conscious of the fact that exercise is repetitive motion that places stress on the body. When exercising, we must not only use caution to prevent injury, but we need to be prepared to handle it accordingly, when faced with the situation.

The cost of injury often includes more than time or money.  Injuries can take a toll on a person’s enthusiasm for a typically safe and fun activity. 

Many injuries occur because participants do not rest their muscles and joints adequately, or they increase their workout loads too rapidly.  This leads to overuse, exercise induced weakness and injury.  Exercisers can best prevent injury by applying knowledge and precaution.  Hopefully this week’s information will be helpful to you in identifying and preventing exercise-related injuries.

An injury represents trauma to tissue sufficient to cause disability, pain, swelling, and sometimes weakness.  Exercise participants may suffer sprains, strains, stress fractures, cartilage damage, nerve irritation, and muscle soreness injuries.

Acute injuries are a single incident of trauma, disability, or severe pain.  They come on suddenly with a definite incident associated with the injury such as spraining an ankle during a fall.  Chronic injuries develop more gradually and may not be associated with a specific incident.  Symptoms of a chronic injury are generally more prolonged and often less disabling than those experienced with an acute injury.  Chronic injuries may develop gradually with repeated overuse, unbearable workload, poor lifting techniques, or inappropriate use of training equipment.

First things first, it is always best to have any injury looked at by your health care professional immediately.  They have the required knowledge and training to properly diagnose, treat, and provide the best possible care for your injury.  Getting the best care is very important because you are more likely to obtain a full recovery for the injured area.  When recovery is attained, your fitness program can continue to move forward toward your goals, but of course, only with your doctor’s approval.

The tissues healing process generates inelastic and weak scar tissue that can rupture more easily than healthy tissue.  To prevent further injury, a person must strengthen muscles and related structures slowly before engaging in activities at the pre-injury exercise intensity.  Typically if any participant experiences pain, swelling, or reduced range of motion for more than three days, they should cease exercise and consult their physician.

Here are a few areas to take serious in regards to injury prevention:

· Perform proper warm up and stretch prior to physical activity

· Use controlled movements with proper mechanics

· Do not exercise through pain

· Increase intensity gradually

· Create muscular balance by working opposing muscle groups (abdominals & low back)

· Use equipment properly

· Shoes should be supportive and cushioned appropriately for the activity

· Use yielding surfaces for most exercises

· Cool down after exercise sessions to allow the body to equalize gradually

· Stretch immediately following physical activity

With assistance from your health care professional, a little motivation and commitment from yourself, you can recover from injury.  An injured person should set goals, follow a recovery plan, and proceed patiently.  Once recuperated a person should keep the area strong and flexible.  A sports medicine or physical therapy specialist can provide a recovery and strength maintenance plan.

Everyone should strive to exercise and stay active their whole lives.  Preventing or minimizing acute and chronic injuries can greatly improve your ability to achieve life-long fitness goals. I know you will exhibit the dedication to attain yours.

Until next week train hard, rest more, think injury prevention, and keep up the good work!  To get started on healthy weight loss, toning, and a healthier lifestyle, contact Reggies Personal Training and Nutrition, 104 E. Main, Downtown Shawnee, (405) 613-0237!