When we sign up for a gym or a workout class, we have fitness goals. That’s a good thing, however, problem arises when we want to achieve those goals in a shorter period than required. The focus shifts from achieving results by hook or crook rather than the core focus area of working out in a healthy way. Another problem comes when we combine various ideas and opinions, from what we know, what we hear and what we read online and follow a combination of practices that may not always be right and get ourselves injured.
Injuries do not only halt the fitness journey but can also cause some irreversible pains.
Connector spoke with field experts to get you aware on what it takes to exercise in a healthy way.
Things To Take Into Consideration While Exercising
If you are a newbie to exercise, do follow a few instructions before and when you start your workout. Simple steps will keep the motivation high, keep you going and save you from any potential injuries. A few recommendations include:
Tips For Beginners:
• Undergo a complete physical check-up. “Before you begin an exercise program, you should undergo a physical check-up, especially if you have an existing medical condition such as heart disease, diabetes, or fibromyalgia. Depending on your condition, a doctor may want your exercise regime to be tailored specifically”, suggests Dr Sanjay Sureen, Specialist Orthopedics Surgeon at Prime Hospital.
• Begin your training gradually and don’t push yourself too hard. Don’t exert yourself beyond your level of fitness. Gradually increase intensity and duration of training.“If you push too hard at the start, your muscles will be sore for days and you may feel sick. This also could sap your motivation”, suggests Dr Sanjay Sureen of Prime Hospital
• If you are uncertain about where to begin, consult a fitness trainer who can help fashion a program to your needs.
• Begin the exercise with a warming up session and end it with a cool down. “A proper exercise program should always include a warm up in the beginning and cool down in the end for 5 to 10 minutes. The warm up should include some stretching exercises especially for the body part that you are planning to use during the exercises. It can also include for example 5 minutes on the bicycle or walking on the treadmill on a low intensity. The cool down can be done again on the bicycle or light jogging for a few minutes and the stretching exercises if comfortable”, suggests Cornelia Gloor, Physiotherapist and Head of Department at RAK Hospital Rehabilitation and Physiotherapy Center.
• Consume adequate antioxidants such as vitamins C and E to protect against free radicals.
• Choose drinks that replace fluids plus essential electrolytes.
• Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after the workout
• Dress appropriately according to the weather condition.
• Avoid very tight clothing
• Wear shoes with good heel support which are ?at with non-skid soles and enough room for toes. Also check them regularly and replace when they are worn out.
• Tape or strap vulnerable joints, if necessary.
• Use the appropriate safety equipment, such as mouth guards, helmets and pads.
Things To Avoid
Try to avoid exercising in the hottest part of the day, between 11am and 3pm. “Exercising in hot and humid conditions may lead to overheating and dehydration. Slow your pace and dress up yourself accordingly”, advises Sara Mateus, Senior Physiotherapist at Mediclinic Al Sufouh.
Things That Would Keep You Going
• Exercise with someone who is in about the same shape as you are. You may get discouraged otherwise.
• Choose activities you enjoy. If exercise isn’t fun, you won’t do it for long.
• Vary your routine to keep you from getting bored, such as walking 10km every other day and lifting weights on the days you don’t walk.
• Cross-train with other sports to ensure overall fitness and muscle strength.
• Allow adequate recovery time between sessions.
• Rest, especially whenever you start to feel sick or extremely tired and also schedule regular days off from exercise.
Common Workout Injuries
Sports injuries happen when the direct force on the body is more than it can handle. Sports injuries are widely divided into two: acute and chronic. “An injury that occurs suddenly, such as a sprained ankle caused by an awkward landing, is known as an acute injury. Chronic injuries are caused by repeated overuse of muscle groups or joints. Poor technique and structural abnormalities can also contribute to the development of chronic injuries. Medical investigation of any sports injury is important, because you may be hurt more severely than you think. For example, what seems like an ankle sprain may actually be a bone fracture”, explains Dr Iyad Jamil Khalil Al-Souri, Consultant Orthopedic Surgery at Zulekha Hospital
It is good to know some of the most common workout injuries.
Sprains are overstretched or torn ligaments that support your joints such as your ankle, knee or wrist. Dr Firdaus Manzar, General Practitioner, Aster Clinic, Discovery Gardens says, “Knee injuries such as ligament tears can occur if you land awkwardly from a jump or stop suddenly or receive a direct blow on your knee or suddenly slow down or change directions during a fast movement. Ankle sprains are generally caused by sudden twisting of your leg. It occurs when your ankle is forced to move out of its normal position. Tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis is a painful condition of elbow caused by overuse, playing badminton, tennis or other racquet sports can cause this condition”
Strains are generally less severe than sprains and occur when you stretch your muscles or tendons more than you should. Muscle cramps are painful, involuntary contractions of muscles that can occur just about anywhere in the body. Overuse and repetitive motion can lead to inflammation. Bursitis, fasciitis and tendonitis are inflammatory conditions common to athletes.
Shin splints cause acute pain in the shin and lower leg, caused by prolonged running typically on a hard surface.
Dehydration is losing too much fluid and can lead to heat exhaustion and heat stroke.
Stress fractures are particularly in the lower limbs. They can be caused from the impact of repeated jumping or running on hard surfaces which can eventually stress and crack bones.
Common Workout Mistakes That Lead To Injuries Above:
Don’t let all your hard work go to waste. Stop committing these common mistakes almost everyone makes.
“Common mistakes people make when exercising are incorrect footwear, skipping rest days, ignoring a balanced diet, not warming up or down, not pushing hard enough, pushing too hard, repetitive motions, not concentrating on technique and not enjoying the workout”, says Dr Iyad Jamil Khalil Of Zulekha Hospital.
Wether you are lifting weights or performing yoga, a correct posture is the key to achieving the desirable results, alas, it is among the most common thing people generally fail to do so. Therefore it is advisable to start your workout with a trained professional as wrong postures put pressure on muscles leading to muscle spasms or joint injuries.
Sara Mateus, of Mediclinic Al Sufouh says, “The common exercise mistakes are generally related with excessive weight load and/or poor technique. To maximise the expected results of the workouts it’s important to perform the exercises slowly and in a controlled manner throughout the entire range of motion and within a comfort zone.”
Dr Firdaus Manzar of Aster Clinic, Discovery Gardens further talks on other common mistakes as follows:
“Quantity but no quality: Half of the people working out don't know the correct way of exercising. They aimlessly exert their body and end up with injuries.
Overestimating your exercise: Most people overestimate their exercise intensity and time, the frequency of their workouts and the amount of calories burnt.
Underestimating your food: Many people are in denial about the type of food they eat. They require energy to do high intensity work outs but the type of food they eat does not meet the body's energy requirement hence people end up fainting, being dizzy and feeling weak.
Setting unrealistic goals: Setting unrealistic goals which are impossible to achieve leaves you exhausted and disappointed”
What To Do If You Get Hurt When Exercising
Regardless of your fitness levels and preventive measures, anyone can face a sudden workout injury. Don’t panic, consult a doctor and follow simple steps. Dr Sanjay Sureen of Prime Hospital says,”Follow the RICE method to keep your injury from getting worse:
R: Rest the injury.
I: Ice the injury to lessen swelling, bleeding, and inflammation.
C: Apply a compression bandage to minimise swelling.
E: Elevate the injury, if possible, to reduce swelling.”
However, do not confuse normal muscles soreness post workout with injury.
“Noteworthy that delayed onset muscle soreness, usually known as DOMS, is a normal response from the muscles after exercising starting 12 to 24 hours after a workout and should not be confused with injury. Seek for medical help in case of persistent/intense pain that starts during exercise or take more than a week to fade away, or inability to move a part of the body”, Sara Mateus of Mediclinic Al Sufouh.