How to Avoid Training Injury
By Myprotein Writer and Personal Trainer Rob Newman
Whether you are training for recreational fitness or you’re a professional athlete, the last thing you want is an injury.
Training injuries are far too common throughout all training disciplines, and without due care and attention can often go from minor muscular niggles to larger barriers very quickly.
1.Are You Missing The Signs?
What we all seem to miss are the warning signs!
These warning signs could just be something you may have never noticed, or perhaps it happens so often your mind has trained itself to ignore the pain. Therefore you accept it as a part of your routine when really it shouldn’t be there at all. Whether it is tendonitis during a bicep curl or even lower back pain during your dead lift, this uncomfortable feeling you are experiencing is just the last part in the chain of events leading up to injury. In order to prevent a potential knock-back in your training the warning signs need to be noticed before you get to this point and they may seem more obvious after reading this article.
2. Focus on Mobility & Strength
With any form of training one of the most important things to think about is training your body on a full range of motion. As a personal trainer, I see so many cases where people have developed injuries because muscles are either not pulling their weight or are over active due to tight kinetic chains. By focusing on flexibility first and foremost you help prevent training new or existing imbalances. For example, if you perform a squat movement and you cannot get into a full range of motion (ROM), then you only train a restricted selection of muscles in that move.
It is important to strengthen and train your body but it’s even more important to strengthening on a full ROM. The same can be said for swimming or running. If you can develop a larger stride or stroke through good mobility, then your ability to generate force or power is improved – have you ever seen the crime watch shows and noticed that the ‘perp on the run’ is running as fast as possible but at the same time they’re not getting anywhere? Compare that to the stride of Usain Bolt (excuse his leg length from this comparison) and you can see why mobility is important.
3. Focus on Form
A concept I like to use here is ‘the weakest link training’. For a long time my big compound lifts were plagued by small frequent injuries and the occasional one that would change my training course. What was happening was that I wasn’t training the weakest part of the chain in the movement and only reinforcing existing imbalances. Focusing only on the numbers, whether it is speed, time, or the weight lifted, distracts you from maintaining that crucial postural control or straight back in your big lift. As a personal trainer my experience with training injury has often been centred around a gym environment and the term ‘Ego Lifter’ gets thrown around regularly.
My answer is this: focus on engaging the correct muscles in a movement and not just on your performance. If you are starting out and you aren’t sure if you are going to cause injury with a new exercise, get someone to oversee it… Preferably an experienced coach or trainer who could spot an imbalance or muscular weakness… but a fussy training partner can often be as helpful. Speaking personally, having a training partner when you’re a personal trainer is good because if they don’t get any room for error then neither do you!
4. Get the Right Nutrition
When exercising you are putting your body through a great deal of stress, whereby in order to perform at your best your body needs energy and the right nutrients. This makes pre workout and post workout nutrition essential! By neglecting your nutrition you are putting your body in a position of energy deficit, making it susceptible to fatigue and injury. Make sure you get a good source of protein and carbohydrates before and after a workout.
Before a workout you should be looking to consume a meal high in protein and complex carbohydrates and following a workout it is ideal to consume a supplement such as whey protein and a quick releasing source of carbohydrates such as fruit, in order to restore your muscle glycogen stores. Hand in hand with nutrition is hydration! Make sure you keep your muscles and mind hydrated during a workout and throughout the day to avoid the risk of injury.
5. Make Sure You Recover
Last, but by no means least, is recovery. When it comes to any training regime recovery time is a top priority- if your body does not recover not only will you see a lack of progress, but you’ll also be putting yourself at an increased risk of muscle injury. To optimise your recovery there are several steps you can take. The first step is sleep! Sleep is the number one way to recover your muscles- make sure you are getting around 8 hours of sleep a night! The second step is to do with nutrition and making sure you get the right post workout nutrition, described above. Lastly if you want to optimise your recovery you should look into purchasing recovery specific supplements such as whey protein, recovery formulas and amino acids, for example BCAA. These supplements are designed to deliver vital nutrients to your depleted muscles following a workout, whereby BCAA’s especially have been shown in scientific studies to enhance muscle recovery.
A Take Home Message
Whether you are experienced or brand new to exercise, training injuries are something we all have to deal with in our training journey and learning from other people’s mistakes can be very valuable. Take a step back from your training and evaluate whether or not you are making solid gains at the expense of your health and muscle condition, or if you are progressing steadily, promoting strong, and balanced muscle.
But Remember patience is key.