“Injuries are the worst,” said a friend of mine yesterday when describing his inability to bike or exercise for the past couple of years due to tendonitis in both knees and back pain.
And I agree, injuries definitely have the potential to wreck your fitness plans completely. Ranging from severe joint pains to nerve pinches, injuries are common regardless of whether you are physically active or not. (The irony is that even if you sit all day at work and don’t do much, you are at risk for even worse, long-term injuries than if you are active.)
But the real question is, ‘Are injuries preventable?’ Just because everyone gets them doesn’t mean that we all have to accept them as something normal.
So, without going into detail on specific injuries, what is a general way to deal with injuries?
Prevention Is Better Than Cure
The key to injury prevention is self-awareness. Injuries are basically a signal from the body that something is wrong. And they almost always start off as a dull pain. So, it is important to listen to these signals early on.
It is also important to mention though that not all pains are signs of an injury. After you exercise hard, you sometimes feel pain in your muscles. That is more than likely not the sign of an injury, that’s just your muscles working hard. Only through experience will you be able to distinguish pains that are bad from harmless pains.
Find The Root Cause
Once you have established that the pain you are feeling is the sign of an injury, it is time to find out what is causing it. One of the best ways to figure this out is by the “process of elimination.” You eliminate some of the things that you think might be causing the pain one by one, and see if the pain increases or goes away.
It is important to note, however, that just because your shoulders hurt when you do push-ups doesn’t mean that push-ups are the cause of your injury. Your shoulders may have been injured from doing something else and this might make them hurt when you do push-ups.
Better Exercise Technique
One of the most common reasons people get injured when exercising is because of poor technique. This is why in yoga, there is such detailed explanation of how to do a pose properly.
Back pain is almost always a result of poor lifting technique. Most people lift with their backs instead of their legs. Over time, this can cause chronic back pain, which they might then blame on a recent exercise program they started.
So to summarize, it is important to keep an eye out for early signs of injuries, use the process of elimination to find the root cause, take steps to eliminate the root cause, and to always use proper exercise technique.