We caught up with Ben Lombard, Chartered Physiotherapist and Rehabilitation Specialist at Function 360, to hear his top tips for an active, injury-free lifestyle.
Injury and over-training are practically synonymous in today’s workout-fuelled world and both are far too commonplace.
Exercise can lead to many positive results, such as body confidence, increased energy, enhanced athletic performance and mindfulness, to name a few. However, the serotonin-inducing goodness that is exercise must always be approached with patience and intelligence, if you want to stay injury-free.
Fortunately, with the right approach, most injuries can be prevented. Here are a few of my pro tips for staying injury-free so you can continue to crush those fitness goals.
1) WARM UP
Warming up and mobilising your soft tissues is absolutely vital to increase muscle activation, blood flow and safe ranges of movement throughout exercise.
Start with some gentle cardio, before moving through some dynamic stretches to get that blood flowing.
What are dynamic stretches?
Dynamic stretches are movements that create a stretch and engagement in the muscles, but follow through a range of movement rather than being held still, like a static stretch
- Lunges with a torso twist
- High knees on the spot
- Heel kicks
- Inch worms
- Shoulder circles
...to name just a few.
2) HAVE A STRATEGIC TRAINING PLAN… and stick to it!
Whatever your level, it is always worth consulting a training expert to help build you a logical progression plan with your weights, reps or sets.
This steady progress will see that you build yourself a strong, solid base to evolve your training from. It will enable you to push yourself and better your performance with each session, whilst avoiding any unhealthy stress or strain.
Looking for a professional plan without the hefty price tag? Fortunately there are some great free fitness apps available too, to help guide you through your training routine.
3) COOL DOWN
So you may have just crushed it in the gym, but all that training is pointless if you haven’t cooled down before sitting at a desk for 8+ hours
Even if it means cutting your main workout a little short to fit in a cool down, it is worth it. The benefits of cooling down after every training session far outweigh skipping it for an extra 10 mins of cardio or weights.
Make time to have a little stretch through each part of your body and jog lightly or walk around a bit. This will help dissipate some of the lactate and metabolites in your tissues to aid your recovery.
And if your job is office-based, then set a reminder to stand and move every hour. Even if it’s just for 30 seconds at a time it will make a difference to your wellbeing and help remind you to reset your posture.
4) FEED YOUR BODY WHAT IT NEEDS
This one’s a no-brainer and can’t be ignored if you’re serious about making progress and staying injury-free.
Eat to perform, not for aesthetics. Don’t be afraid of certain foods or macronutrients. Your body is a wonderful thing and it needs to be fuelled sufficiently, with the right things.
Healthy sports nutrition comprises of a balance of fat, carbohydrates and protein should always be supported with a good dose of micronutrients, vitamins, minerals and bloody loads of water! To find out more, check out our golden rules of post-workout nutrition.
Looking to take your nutrition to the next level? Take a look at our dedicated sports nutrition range for the best products on the market to support your training goals.
5) REST AND RECOVERY
This is often the most overlooked component of fitness.
The point of exercise should be to stimulate, rather than annihilate. Your body grows and repairs after the workout, not during it. And if your muscles feel sore in the days after, this is likely due to tiny muscle tears, that will repair and rebuild stronger, but only if you give them chance.
So don’t see rest days as lazy days, embrace them as growth days that are essential to your fitness journey (- that makes carb-loading whilst binge watching Netflix much easier... trust me).
Feeling extra cranky in a particular muscle? Put that rest day to good use and book in to see a physiotherapist or sports masseuse, to stop that niggle in its tracks.
Compression leggings can also work wonders in aiding swift recovery between workouts.
6) ACCESSORY MOVEMENTS
Accessory movements are essential to producing a well-balanced and efficient body. Working solely with primary movements (i.e. big lifts) is foolish and will create huge muscle imbalance. It’s like eating food without seasoning… yes it’s still edible but damn is it that much better with the added extras!
So what are Accessory Movements?
Accessory movements often use light assisting equipment, free weights or your own body weight.
Example moves include:
- Ab rollouts
- TRX rows
- Swiss ball hamstring curls
- Pull ups
Why are accessory movements so important to your workout?
Accessory movements will help you to improve your technique and performance in your primary movements (and day-to-day life!), thanks to its:
- Focus on alignment
- Repeated movement patterns
- Endurance required
- Training of smaller muscle groups, which will improve stability and reduce imbalances
Accessory movements really are the cherry on the top of your training cake and you will certainly reap the rewards for doing them.
So there you have it, my 6 golden tips to avoiding injuries while you train.
Ultimately, whether you are training for ongoing enjoyment or to reach a specific fitness goal, you must always be sure to look after numero uno... yourself!
Gone are the days of the live fast, die young approach to life. More people are looking to achieve sustainable, healthy, balanced lifestyles, to keep them fit and healthy for longer.
So when it comes to longevity in fitness, health and wellness - in the words of Aesop’s The Tortoise and The Hare - “slow and steady wins the race.”
Get 10% OFF your next appointment at Function360 - simply quote code TSE10 when booking.
NEXT UP: Find out how TRX training can really improve your strength and fitness >