By: S. Quadri, Fusion Cardio Toronto
When I first heard about Shari’s near death experience which was brought on by a tough workout (read here), my heart when out to her. All Shari was trying to do was improve her health through a challenging workout, but instead, she did the opposite.
While Shari’s story is an extreme example of an exercise-related injury, in Canada. 35 percent of injuries occurred during participating in some kind of sport or exercise (Statistics Canada). Of all injuries, sprains and strains were the most common and most injuries came from falls and overexertion (Statistics Canada).
To help you reduce your chances of an exercise-related injury, here’s a list of 8 questions and tips to consider before your next physical activity.
1. Are you ready to exercise?
• To find out if you’re ready for a specific physical activity program, speak to your doctor. You can also fill out the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (here) first and then review it with your doctor after. While the process of being cleared for an activity may seem lengthy, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If pregnant, you’re often suggested to continue your exercise programs with modifications and not add in new activities. Or if you have a recent injury and are now clear for exercise, ask a physiotherapist for tips to prevent it from reoccurring.
Tip: If you have a new or reoccurring injury that is preventing you from exercising, physiotherapists are there to try and help you fix them.
In Toronto, kids and older adults are eligible for FREE physiotherapy. Find a center, here.
2. How’s your body feeling?
• Are you feeling dizzy? Faintish? A sharp pain? Unbalanced? If you’re feeling any of these symptoms before, during, or after a workout, immediately stop and sit down. Sometimes when you’re feeling faintish or dizzy, sitting down and taking deep breathes in and out can help. Sometimes having a snack can help if it’s due to a lack of caloric intake.
Tip: To be on the safe side, see a doctor immediately.
3. How’s Your Form?
• Performing a move correctly will help reduce injuries. When performing a new exercise, ask a trainer for tips on how to do it right. If you’re weight training ask your trainer for proper form and the appropriate size weights to use. If cardio training, ask for form and modifications on common exercises. When flexibility training, ask for modifications (standing, sitting, or laying down).
Tip: If you’re doing workouts alone, search for videos by popular fitness experts online or at your local library.
4. Do you stretch properly?
• Stretching properly and for the right amount of time can reduce injuries. To get the mind and body ready for a workout perform dynamic stretching (stretches with a bounce). To bring the mind and body back from the workout perform static stretching (a stretch with a hold). Dynamic stretching helps to increase the body temperature and heart rate and circulate the oxygen needed to create energy for the upcoming exercise while static stretching takes the body temperature and heart rate back down, recovers any oxygen loss, and is the best time to stretch muscles and joints. Keep in mind that stretching times depends on the length of the workout.
Tip: To learn how to perform cool down stretches in 5-minutes with Fitness Expert, Assata: Watch Here.
5. What are you wearing?
• Wearing the right clothing and shoes for your activity can help reduce injuries. When it comes to footwear, wear a pair of shoes that are meant for the specific activity. For instance, running shoes are meant for running while trainers are used for cross-training. Wearing running shoes in a dance class, for instance, may lead to you twisting your ankle as running shoes are made for forward motion and not lateral motion. Regarding clothing, for outdoor winter activities, you’ll want to dress it up to reduce the chances of getting hypothermia. In the summer, feel free to dress it down to reduce the chances of over-heating.
Tip: When looking for a shoe, think about what you’ll be doing in it. Speak to a sports physiotherapist, physiotherapist, or the manager of a sports store about the best shoe picks for your activity.
6. Are you drinking enough water?
Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after a workout, helps to speed up your recovery time. The faster you recover, the better it is for your body.
Tip: CanFitPro suggests drinking 250 to 500 ml of water one-hour before exercising, 125 to 250 ml every 10 to 15 minutes during exercise, and 500 ml for every pound of weight loss after exercise. Your doctor may be able to provide a better guideline for your body.
7. How often do you workout?
• To reap the health benefits of exercise, the World Health Organization suggest adults get in 300 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week and 150 minutes of vigorous intensity per week. Kids are encouraged to get in at least 60 minutes per day.
Tip: While these recommendations are put in place to benefit you, remember to go at your own pace and listen to your body.
8. How’s The Environment?
• Is it too cold? Is it too hot? Are there lots of objects around you? Are there trainers to help you? Choose to be physically active in a space that you are comfortable in. If it’s at home, make sure you’re able to breathe in and out easily and that there is enough room for you to move around in, free of objects. The last you want is to trip over an object and sprain an ankle.
Tip: If your home does not have ample heating and/or air conditioning, have a fan or heater on hand and put it on when you need it.
Last tip: Always listen to your body and never be afraid to ask for help. Because the better the body feels, the better the workout is.
Wishing you less pain and more gain!
This article was inspired by these life-saving sources:
9. Vogel, Amanda, Canadian Fitness Instructor Specialist Certification Textbook, Canadian Fitness Professionals Inc., 2014.