Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
The Summer Olympics are this year. As the world watches the best runners in the country, many of us who cheer on the champs are inspired and motivated ourselves, whether it’s to step up our own game or take on a whole new physical challenge. Dr. Daniel Vigil, a sports medicine specialist at UCLA, says you should embrace your Olympic enthusiasm and go for your own gold. Dr. Vigil shares these tips to avoid getting injured:
Know Your Personal Parameters
Acknowledge your body’s limitations and tailor your training. For example, if you know you have weak knees or arthritis in your knees, you’ll want to build up strength without hurting them. That may mean riding the elliptical or using a stair stepper, rather than taking on the impact of a treadmill or outdoors. And remember, the “no pain, no gain” philosophy can set you up for an injury. If “ouch” is at the tip of your tongue, it may be time to stop your workout, and rest for a day.
Seek Expert Advice On Not Getting Injured
Talk to your doctor about your fitness level and your goals. Take a few lessons with a qualified personal trainer or coach for your sport. They can create a safe and realistic program for your body type and age, as well as help you moderate your routines so you don’t do too much, too soon. The right program will allow muscles to heal properly, which in turn helps avoid some of the more common injuries. Finally, they can ensure your body is in proper position or alignment while you’re working out or practicing, which can go a long way toward protecting you from injuries.
Stretch It Out, Warm It Up And Take It Slow
Whatever type of fitness activity you’re doing, you’re less likely to get injured if you do dynamic stretches before and after you work out; warm up with an activity that uses the same muscles you’ll use during your workout to gradually rev up your cardiovascular system, increase blood flow to your muscles and raise your body temperature; and gradually build up the pace (intensity, duration, and frequency) of your workout to ensure proper technique along the way.
Don’t Overdo It
While doing one exercise over and over will help you master it, it can also lead to overuse and repetitive-use injuries such as shin splints and tendinitis. Vary your workout routine from day to day so you don’t overuse one set of muscles. Finally, give yourself time to rest and recover between workouts. The best way to keep a small injury from becoming a larger one is to rest the sore muscle.