How to Prevent Injury During Exercise: Benefits of Stretching for Fitness

Working out is a wonderful way to boost your overall wellness and reduce your risk of health issues. Whether you’re engaging in steady-state cardio, strength training, or flexibility training, you should be as safe as possible to prevent a workout injury. Exercise-related injuries can make it difficult to keep up your regimen or perform your daily tasks, so it is important to know about workout precautions to reduce the risk. 

An effective exercise routine prioritizes injury prevention and safety. And when done correctly, it can further help you achieve your fitness goals. Follow these five precautionary practices on how to prevent injuries as you continue your health and wellness journey. 

Warm up and cool down: one of the best ways to prevent injury

Have you asked yourself, what are the keys to injury prevention? An effective warm up is a key step before a workout routine, as is a cool down after the completion of your routine. This generally means 5 to 10 minutes of light to moderate aerobic exercise. Aim to get your pulse to at least 64% of your maximum heart rate.

To calculate this, subtract your age from 220, then multiply by 0.64. For example, if you’re 55, your maximum heart rate is 165 beats/minute. Aim for 64%, which would be about 105 beats/minute, as your starting exercise heart rate. 

Warming up increases blood flow to your muscles, making them more flexible and less prone to injury. Similarly, cooling down after your workout helps your heart rate, breath rate and body temperature return to its normal state gradually. 

To cool down after exercise, continue moving at less than half your previous intensity. For example, if you were jogging, reduce your speed to a walk until your heart rate returns to a normal resting rate. 

Stretch before and after your workout: Warm-up and cool-down stretches

Once you’ve warmed up, stretch out thoroughly. This is one of the best ways to prevent injury as it helps your muscles to optimally lengthen and contract. You can perform dynamic stretches and muscle activation exercises before any resistance training or cardio. Dynamic stretching is the best way to stretch before exercise, as it allows your muscles to stretch out while moving. Muscle activation exercises are essential as they get your muscles warmed up and ready to work. A combination of both of these types of movements will reduce the risk of injury and help with tightness and imbalances in our muscles.

A good stretch for hip mobility is cat-cow. This popular yoga pose helps open and build control of the hips, and can also help prevent and correct pelvic tilting. Torso twist is an effective dynamic stretch that can increase mobility, core strength, and help with injury prevention. 

If you prefer to exercise using resistance bands, you should try inner-thigh and lying hip stretches. These movements focus on stretching your hip flexors and hamstrings, which can get tight throughout the day. 

Shoulders are especially prone to injury if you lift weights. An excellent stretch for shoulder mobility is the wall angel. This exercise will help reduce tension and pain in your upper back.

Don’t forget to practice your favorite cool-down stretches to release muscle tension and stimulate blood flow that promotes healing. Many yoga asanas, such as triangle pose, cobra pose, and child’s pose are ideal for closing out your exercise routine.

Stretching is also therapeutic on its own. Many people enjoy a good stretch for back pain relief and other discomfort. OAK Health Club’s Performance Coaches are happy to help you implement stretching into your exercise routine!

Strength-train for safer cardio: exercise science vs. myth

Cardiovascular exercise, or aerobics, is often thought of as a complete fitness solution. However, a well rounded exercise routine should include cardio and strength training to keep your body functional for the long-term and help strengthen your joints. 

As you create a workout plan for yourself, aim for a balance of aerobic exercises, strength training, mobility, stretching and balance training. Additionally, make sure that you’re creating a safe exercise routine for your body, with gradual increases in effort and duration. 

Looking for some inspiration for your workout plan? Here are some exercises to try in your next routine:

With any form of exercise, focus on injury prevention to reduce muscle strains or overuse injuries. Warm up thoroughly and listen to your body. If you feel fatigued, take a rest. 

Proper workout form

Using proper form during exercise is crucial to injury prevention and safety. Improper form puts undue stress on your muscles and joints. Always follow the exercise guidelines posted on any gym equipment. If you’re not sure how to perform a particular exercise correctly, seek the guidance of a certified fitness professional. At OAK Health Club, all of our coaches have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in some form of exercise science, so they’re able to give science-backed guidance for your workout regimen. Our word-class fitness professionals will help design an individual wellness plan tailored to your needs while inspiring positive results towards a healthier and stronger lifestyle. 

As you continue or begin your workout program, it is also important to wear appropriate gear, such as comfortable sneakers, to help prevent injury during exercise. Did you know that there are different types of shoes that you should use based on the specific exercise or activity you are doing? It is important to get shoes that will provide support for your specific activities. If you’re not sure what types of shoes best suit your activity, you can consult with one of OAK’s Performance Coaches for the latest information and recommendations.

No matter what, listen to your body: If you feel pain or discomfort during exercise, stop immediately and seek medical attention if necessary. “No pain, no gain” is a myth. Pushing through pain can cause further injury and delay the healing process.

Regulate your exercise routine

Especially when beginning a new regimen, you should start slowly and gently. Gradually increase the duration of your exercise routine over time. Within each workout session, build your intensity rather than diving right into heavy weights or intense cardio. Sudden jumps in the intensity or duration of exercise can put too much stress on your muscles and joints, leading to injury.

Then, take rest days: Rest is essential for allowing your muscles and joints to recover from the stress of exercise. If you work out two or more days in a row, alternate between different types of exercises to help prevent overuse injuries.

The power of massage tools for trigger point release

Did you know that fitness involves more than strong muscles? It also includes fascia, which surrounds all your muscles and joints, providing a connective web that aids movement. Unfortunately, the myofascial tissue can become “restricted or tight,” especially with repeated movements. This may lead to incorrect muscle engagement, which can cause injury.

One tool to reduce muscle tension is myofascial massage trigger-point release. By applying pressure to different parts of the body you can help unlock your full range of motion. Try a massage ball for trigger-point release on your own.

Massage also promotes circulation to heal micro-tears in your muscles that inevitably occur with exercise. Plus, it feels amazing!

You don’t always need a massage therapist for myofascial release. Massage balls and foam rollers are simple tools to relieve tension and boost circulation.

At OAK Health Club, we have several powerful products available for use on the floor at no additional costs for all of our members:

Unlike other health clubs in the area which charge a fee or require assistance to use this equipment, at OAK, these tools are freely available for your use — no need to wait for a coach. 

You can also purchase these products, as well as the Hypervolt 2 and the travel-size Hypervolt Go 2, from OAK Health Club. Use them to aid in post-workout recovery at home or as a massage tool for back, leg and shoulder pain.

Work out smarter at OAK Health Club

Following these tips can help prevent injury during exercise and ensure a safe and effective workout. It’s always a good idea to train with an expert in exercise science, especially when first developing your fitness regimen. If you are ready to learn how to start a workout routine, then OAK Health Club of Ashburn in Virginia is here to help. We offer personalized experiences through a combination of fitness, nutrition, recovery and community. The result: you’ll feel healthy, capable and empowered on your path to optimal health and wellness. Our Loudoun fitness club offers everything you need for success when you start a weight loss journey. Choose a membership offer or call us for more information at 1-571-462-6542. You’re always invited to schedule a tour and see what OAK Health Club has to offer.

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