Fitness Plan - Pre-Workout
Fitness Plan - Pre-Workout
Fitness Plan - Pre-Workout
Fitness Plan - Beginner
Fitness Plan - Beginner
Fitness Plan - Beginner
Fitness Plan - Intermediate
Fitness Plan - Intermediate
Fitness Plan - Intermediate
Fitness Plan - Advanced
Fitness Plan - Advanced
Fitness Plan - Advanced
Fitness Plan - Post-Workout
Fitness Plan - Post-Workout
Fitness Plan - Post-Workout

Injury prevention essentials

Stretches for managing lower back pain

Lower back pain is a common occurrence among adults, and this can be remedied by stretching your muscles every day. Most people can benefit from this good habit, which can help strengthen your muscles in the long run. Below are six stretches you can try at home. Beginners may experience mild discomfort, but your tolerance and fitness will improve over time:

  • Baby cobra
  • Bird dog
  • Cat/cow
  • Psoas lunges
  • Squat
  • Twist

You can learn how to do each of these stretches to help with lower back pain and minimize your risk of injuries.

15 minutes of stretching helps with flexibility

Taking 15 minutes per day for stretching can dramatically increase your flexibility, which may help you with your day-to-day tasks. Furthermore, you may notice improvements in your athletic performance and mobility. But take great care when stretching — pushing too far can create microtears in your muscles, and you won’t gain any benefit at all.

If you sit at a desk all day, the following stretches can benefit your muscles.

  • Neck and shoulder
    1. Sit cross-legged on the floor, back straight and hip centered.
    2. Extend your left arm out to the side with your fingertips touching the floor.
    3. Take your right arm over your head, touching your left ear and gently stretching your neck to the right.
    4. Hold this position for 30 seconds and switch sides.
  • Hip swivel
    1. While sitting on the floor, place your hands behind you for support.
    2. With your knees bent and your feet planted on the floor, allow your knees to drop to one side and hold for one to two seconds.
    3. Pull them up to 90 degrees and then let them drop to the other side.
    4. Do 10 repetitions on each side.
  • Leg tuck up
    1. Lie on your back.
    2. Bring your knees to your chest and grasp your knees with your hands.
    3. Squeeze your knees in. You may rock back and forth a little if you’d like to help open up your lower back.
  • Cross body pull
    1. While on your back, spread your feet a little wider than your hips.
    2. Cross your right leg over your left knee with your right ankle on your left knee.
    3. Using both hands, pull your right knee up toward your left shoulder.
  • Squat to pike
    1. While sitting, move forward until your feet are on the floor and you’re in a squat position.
    2. Keep your chest as close to your legs as possible and extend your knees without fully straightening them, while keeping your hands on the floor.
    3. You’ll end up in a “touch your toes” position and feel the stretch in your hamstrings.
    4. Hold this for two to three seconds and then return to the squat position.

The importance of warmups

When doing anything athletic or physically strenuous, warming up your muscles beforehand is a very important habit to develop. The goal of warming up is to increase blood flow to your muscles to help lower the risk of injuries. Popular examples include doing body squats and jumping jacks for a few minutes until you’re breathing heavily.

You may also try the Nitric Oxide (NO) Dump, which is a high-intensity exercise that can serve as a great warmup before moving on to more complicated movements. This exercise promotes the release of NO in your body by dilating your veins and arteries. This chemical also plays a protective role in your mitochondrial health.

What’s great about the NO Dump is it takes only a few minutes of your time and does not require any fitness tool. There are only four movements to the exercise, with 10 repetitions each and three sets. As your fitness level progresses, increase the repetitions to 20 along with using weights. Here is how you can do the NO Dump.

  • Squats
    1. Perform 10 squats in rapid sequence while keeping your quadriceps engaged.
    2. Your buttocks should move back as though you’re going to sit in a chair while your arms move forward for balance.
  • Alternating arm raises
    1. Swing your arms at a 90-degree angle in an alternate manner
    2. Keep your form tight and your muscles activated throughout the motion. Don’t swing your arms too high or too low.
  • Non-jumping jacks
    1. Stand straight with your arms down and fists touching the front of your pelvis.
    2. Using a broad rotation, circle your arms upward on each side to touch your fists over your head.
    3. Circle back down to hit your fists at the bottom and repeat 10 times.
  • Shoulder Presses
    1. Bring fists above your shoulders on each side of your head, elbows bent./li>
    2. Extend your arms straight above your head.
    3. Return to position with fists just over your shoulders and repeat 10 times.

Stretching and warmups can only get you so far. Paying attention to your form, as well as the equipment you’re using, can drastically lower the risk of injuries. For example, research shows that wearing running shoes with less cushion may actually lower your risk of injuries by adhering to your body’s natural biomechanics when moving.1

Reduce injuries by wearing less cushion in your shoes

It’s commonly thought that thick cushions in your shoes can absorb the impact your foot makes to the ground. However, this increases your loading rate, which is the speed at which you apply force to your body. Reducing this speed may actually lower the force of impact when running.

When shopping for running shoes, look for soles that have minimal cushion with a heel-to-toe drop of less than 0.16 inches (4 millimeters), plus a stack height of less than or equal to 0.64 inches (16 millimeters).

Another thing to pay attention to is your running technique, or stride. Long strides actually reduce efficiency while simultaneously increasing your loading rate. When running, try to land your feet to the ground using a forefoot strike, as this generates smaller forces. Increasing your cadence, or leg turnover, may help reduce your loading rate.

During the course of your fitness journey, you may develop injuries you may refer to as “sprains” and, sometimes, may interchange with “strains” as well. Are these two things the same? As it turns out, they are very far from each other.

Sprains are tears on the ligaments that connect two bones together, such as the ankle. Strains, on the other hand, occur when muscles or tendons are damaged. Both can cause pain, but they can be distinguished further:

Strain Sprain
Swelling There may be a “popping” on the event of injury
Bruising Inability to bear weight
Limited mobility Bruising
Muscle spasms or cramping Limited mobility
Strain
Swelling Bruising Limited mobility Muscle spasms or cramping
Sprain
There may be a “popping” on the event of injury Inability to bear weight Bruising Limited mobility

Should you sustain an injury, apply first aid to the affected area using the RICE method:

  • Rest — It’s important that you don’t move the affected area and protect it from stress.
  • Ice — Apply ice packs for 15 to 20 minutes every few hours for the first two days after injury to help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Compression — If a joint is injured, compressing the area with an elastic bandage can reduce swelling.
  • Elevate — Raise the injured area to the same level as your heart to help maximize blood circulation and reduce swelling.

After administering first aid, visit a doctor right away, to diagnose your exact condition and provide a recovery plan to help you get back on track.

Reducing risk of injury using resistance bands

One fitness technique that’s often overlooked is using resistance bands to build strength. These tools are made from strong, elastic bands made with handles on both ends. They are inexpensive, easy to store and adaptive — you can get a workout just about anywhere you go if you are creative enough. They also come in different resistances so you can upgrade them once your fitness level improves.

Resistance bands can be used for warmups for your legs. Wrap your legs with the band and sidestep to your left, and then to your right to get the blood flowing. It’s also possible to use resistance bands for strength training, such as bicep curls. Simply stand on the band with both feet, and perform bicep curls while grasping the handles.

Don’t forget to include massage therapy in your fitness plan

Getting a massage is one of the quickest ways of releasing pain from your sore muscles after exercising. It’s also been shown to promote better mood and lower your anxiety by releasing endorphins in your system. Getting a massage may also help ease:

  • Tension headaches and migraines
  • Labor pain
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Cancer pain
  • Back pain

It’s also important to note the frequency and dosage of the massage. You may be able to experience relief from pain better if you received an hour-long massage a few times a week, compared to getting half-hour sessions only.

When to skip a workout

Even if you’re doing great with your fitness routine and making impressive results, there may be times when you need to skip a workout for various, legitimate reasons. Here are five cases wherein not working out actually makes sense:

  • You’re sick “below your neck” — If you feel very ill because you caught a respiratory illness, it’s better to rest until you feel better. Refrain from high-intensity exercise during bouts of illness, as it may cause your body to produce cortisol and actually hamper your self-healing systems.
  • You’re injured — Developing an injury serious enough to put you out of action requires rest. It makes sense that you don’t exercise until the affected area heals completely.
  • You’re exhausted — Lack of sleep can cause a dip in your energy levels the next day. It’s better to put off your exercise and reschedule until you get better sleep. Also, if you’re exhausted after exercising, it’s a sign that you’re doing it too much. Reduce the frequency to give your body time to recover.
  • Your body is very sore — You may experience DOMS after you’ve tried a new exercise. Rest until the discomfort is gone before exercising again.
  • Your schedule is busy — There may come a time wherein your schedule does not permit you to work out, such as a trip. To compensate, you may sneak in a few HIIT sessions to maintain your fitness level.

These are probably the only times where skipping a workout is OK. If you decide to avoid too many sessions due to humdrum excuses, your fitness begins to suffer. In just two weeks, your cardiovascular levels decrease, leading you to see a dip in endurance on your next exercise session. If you think your motivation levels are dipping to the point of causing you to skip workouts, trying new exercises may give you renewed inspiration.