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3 Basic Ways to Reduce Injury

3 Basic Ways to Reduce Injury
By: Thomas Gentile, L.A. Dodgers Strength and Conditioning Professional

 

Before we get started let’s clarify one thing: there is no such thing as Injury Prevention. Yes.  I said it.  Here’s why:

We, as strength and conditioning professionals, have not nor will not ever be able to prevent injuries.  We are not magicians with these mythical powers that can magically keep you healthy.  If you ever talk to anyone who claims they can prevent injuries from happening, RUN. As fast as you can. And don’t look back. Because it’s not possible to make that claim. 

Anyways, back to the topic. No one person on this earth can prevent an injury.  Rather, better terminology we should use: REDUCE the chance of injury.  Here’s the thing, LIFE HAPPENS.  Any form of training is a stressor on your body. Whether you are walking, running, jumping, strength training, etc., you are instantly adding a stressor to your body.  Putting your body under stress increases your chance of injury. Therefore, as strength and conditioning professionals, we can only help to REDUCE the chance of injury for our athletes, not PREVENT the injury.

Okay, now that we have that clarified, onto the real topic, ways to reduce your chance of injury.

Many experts in this field have spent countless hours researching and designing the best training protocols to keep their athletes as healthy as possible.  There are always debates on which training protocol is the safest or which injury reduction method works best, but for the sake of this article, I’m going to make this as simple as possible.

Here are my 3 basic ways to reduce your chance of injury during training:

  1. THINK

This may be overlooked by a large majority of people when they train.  Use your brain.  Before you step into any gym, establish your training goal. Whether you’re training to break a world record, run your first 5k, or just look better in front of the mirror, have a training goal. Many people get hurt because they do not know what their goal is so they aimlessly move weights around in the gym, increasing their risk of injury. After your reason for being in the gym is established, now think about what exercises you should do to achieve your goal.  If you don’t know, ask somebody (preferably someone with training knowledge), if they don’t know, do your homework and research online.  Lastly, you know your body better than anybody, so if you know your 1 rep max bench is 135 lbs, you’re not going to use 135 lbs for 5 repetitions.  Too many people do this, leading to overexertion, leading to injury.  So use your head and THINK!

  1. PREP

Would you ever roll out of bed, drive to the gym, throw your squat (PR) personal record on the bar for your first set, and then squat it? Me neither.  That’s why we warm-up.  In layman’s physiological terms, we need to enhance the blood flow to our muscles before we begin maximally exerting our muscles.  A standard warm-up should first contain a few minutes of soft tissue/myofascial release with a foam roller or lax ball, essentially sending a response to your muscles that it’s time to wake up and get going. Next, a few minutes of a thermogenic (ie. Light jog, jumping jacks, stationary bike, bodyweight movements), raising the body’s core temperature increasing blood flow to all regions of the body.  The third component of the prep are dynamic stretching movements, increasing your body’s range of motion (i.e knee hugs, bodyweight lunges, etc.). Lastly, add a couple warm up sets of your primary exercise in order for your body to neurologically adapt to the movement pattern of that exercise, enforcing a proper and complete movement pattern before the weight is increased. All in all, PREP yoself before you WRECK yoself.

  1. RECOVER

#teamnodaysoff #teamnosleep. Well you can hashtag this all you want via social media but in reality, you’re going to need a day off and you’re going to need sleep.  For those of you who want your gains, the hormone GH, or growth hormone (the hormone that is largely responsible for muscle growth) is released throughout your body during sleep.  Sleeping is your body’s own mechanism of recovering and repairing itself from the stressors of training. If you don’t sleep or sleep to an adequate amount, your body will never fully recover. Also, taking a day or two off from your training is not a bad idea.  Getting away from the gym allows you to recharge your batteries (aka CNS but that’s for another article) and will serve a beneficial purpose mentally and physically, thus aiding in your ability to consistently train at your same intensity. Consistently training without the sufficient ability to recover will ultimately skyrocket your risk of injury because something will eventually give: your body or the barbell.  Last I checked, iron isn’t very forgiving.  Basic math: No sleep+No days off=no gains=Injury. 

 

You can always improve your knowledge, your prep routine before you lift, and your recovery habits. Keep repeating these steps as long as you keep training to help REDUCE your chances of injury!

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