My Life as a Loser. A Never-Ending Battle to Lose Weight–Chapter Twelve–Preventing Injuries

7 Common Home Workout Injuries


Sprains or injuries to ligaments due to accidental twists

Muscle or tendon injuries from not warming up

Tendinitis or inflammation of a tendon due to overuse

Lower back pain due to lifting with improper form

Hip or knee pain due to excessive workouts

Hamstring pull caused by quick, unexpected movements

Shoulder impingement due to excessive overhead actions with bad form

Whether you’re a casual exercise enthusiast or hard-core gym buff, getting injured while working out doesn’t have to be an inevitable part of life. Here are 13 tips for preventing injuries during exercise:

1. Take time for a proper warm-up

Jumping straight into your run or aerobics class is a surefire way to injure yourself. Cold muscles are less pliable and more prone to tearing, which can spell disaster for your workout plans. Spend 5 to 10 minutes before your workout performing an active warm-up, meaning you keep your body moving by walking or performing dynamic stretches such as leg lifts. Slow stretches where you assume a position and hold it does not get your muscles moving enough for a proper warm-up, so avoid them if possible.

2. Don’t overestimate your abilities

Just because you were able to execute that heavy lift when you last trained a month ago, or were able to run a 7-minute mile five years ago, doesn’t mean you are able to today. Be realistic about your current abilities and start out slowly if you’re just getting into exercising or if you’re starting up a new program. A couple of days at lower intensity while you figure out where your training sweet spot is will do much less to impede your eventual performance than starting off too hard, injuring yourself, and having to take several days or weeks off to recover.

3. Cross-train

Changing up your exercises, when done carefully and with your physical limits in mind, can actually benefit your training instead of hurting it. Our muscles get used to the same moves if performed over and over again, potentially leading to overuse injuries. Also, if you perform the exact same routine day in and day out, you may get overconfident and attempt to use too much weight or let your attention wander, which can be dangerous. By switching up your training routine every so often, or even rotating the types of training you do every other day, you will engage and strengthen more of your muscles, giving you a better overall workout and improving your strength.

4. Learn proper technique

If you’re beginning a new workout regimen, take the time early on to learn proper form. This may mean working with a professional for a few sessions. Improper form, especially in weightlifting, can cause serious injuries that will cause you to halt your training. Every sport can benefit from a little expert assistance, including aspiring runners, swimmers, or tennis players. Take things slow, learn how to properly execute the moves, and your hard work will pay off down the road.

5. Eat a balanced diet

A proper diet, and eating at well-timed intervals around training, is just as important for your health and exercise performance as is the training you do. Eating a light, balanced meal or snack two hours before training will help fuel your performance, as will a snack or meal shortly after a workout. Protein is great for rebuilding muscle fibers that may have been put through the ringer during your routine, so make sure it’s part of your post-workout noshing.

6. Drink plenty of water

Just like with food, exercising when improperly hydrated can lead to injury. As you exercise, you sweat, releasing not only water from your body but also electrolytes that are important for brain and body function. But, just as not drinking enough water can be a bad idea, so can drinking too much, as that sloshy feeling in your stomach during a workout can leave you nauseated and distracted. Try to fit in 16 ounces of water about two hours prior to a workout, then keep a bottle of water with you for sips every 15 minutes or so during exercise. Follow up your workout with another 16 ounces within two hours of finishing to replace lost fluids.

7. Dress for your sport

One of the leading causes of sports injury is being improperly attired for the activity being performed. This could mean everything from wearing ill-fitting, old, or incorrect shoes for your chosen sport to wearing clothing that’s loose and baggy, causing you to trip. Long workouts and multiple repetitions can put stress on your joints and feet, so be sure to wear a good pair of shoes to avoid any chance of inflammation or injury. If you prefer doing high-impact exercises, it would be best to invest in a pair of running shoes with good cushioning. Wear clothing that is as close-fitting to your body as you are comfortable with, but not too tight that it hampers your movement. Make sure to research the proper type of shoe for your activity – Never wear running shoes into the weight room, for example! – before starting. If possible, get professionally fitted for your shoes.

8. Listen to your body

If something hurts, stop. Pain is not gain; pain is a sign that you’re either doing something wrong or you’re doing something your body isn’t ready for yet. Stop, evaluate what you did to cause the pain and either adjust your form or take a rest. You’re better off backing down from a pain-inducing move than pushing through it and risking injury. If necessary, consult with a professional or coach to see if there’s an adjustment you need to make in order to avoid pain. Just because you could do a specific exercise 10 or 20 years ago, doesn’t mean you can exercise with the same speed and energy today. Be realistic about your training and not focus on what you use to do. “Too much, too soon” can be the number one reason why injuries occur. Gradually increase your time and the intensity of your workouts to prevent those nagging injuries.

9. Don’t skip rest days

When you’re actively chasing a fitness goal, it can seem counter-productive to take a whole day (or two!) away from the gym to rest. Rest days are, in fact, exactly the opposite: They allow your body to recuperate and your muscles to rebuild, which contribute to increased strength and growth. One full rest day every 3 to 5 workout days is generally recommended. Take more time off if you’re experiencing excessive soreness or pain, or you just feel worn down. You’re better off taking an extra day to rest now than risking training while overtired and injuring yourself.
Starting a new exercise journey is a positive step toward overall health and wellness. Take your time, take the above precautions, and have fun while exploring something new. Your muscles require time to recover. Remember to get enough sleep, eat enough protein and schedule your workouts in a way that you can still rest, especially if you came from a sedentary lifestyle and started working out just recently.

10. Use mats to prevent joint pain and slipping accidents.

It’s not advisable to work out on a carpet, hardwood, cement or even rugs and towels as they can lead to slipping accidents. The best choice is a thick exercise or yoga mat, especially when your workout incudes jumps, planks and other exercises that require you to lay down.

11. Visit a personal trainer or get a coach 

If you don’t know how to start an exercise program or progress to that next level of anaerobic/aerobic exertion safely, a personal trainer or coach is the perfect option. They can give you safety tips and progressions to either get you started or accomplish your goal without getting injured.

12. Eat a balanced diet and hydrate

What you eat and drink is just as important as your workout. Not only will carbohydrates give you energy for your workout, they will replenish those glycogen stores for your recovery and for the next workout. Protein after your workout is just as important as this will help repair those muscles you just broke down. Work with a sports nutritionist to understand when, how much, and what foods you should be eating to keep you healthy and energized for your workouts.

13. Add strength training and core work to your routine 

Having a strong fit body is a great way to keep the injuries away. If your muscles are balanced with a strong core then your body will not wear down or have to compensate for being weak or tight.

Smart Habits for Tech-Smart Kids

All’s not lost if we teach our children to develop good tech habits. Remember the two-hour guideline and you can keep the kids tech-happy and healthy, too! Try introducing smart apps like fitness trackers instead of games, or online apps for mindfulness or focus training, instead.

Tech’s not all bad — it’s still a great tool when it comes to watching our health. In addition, there is much that we, as parents, can do to help, from setting time limits and organising alternative physical activities by age to providing the right tools.

  • Increase outdoor physical activity time. Experts in Singapore recommend that younger children spend an average of three hours a day outdoors to protect them from the onset of myopia. A more active lifestyle will also stave off obesity, keep them fit and keep their minds off their devices!
  • Reduce time spent unnecessarily on hand-held devices or the computer. Consider setting limits, so that there is less argument when it’s time to stop.
  • Take five-minute vision breaks after every 30-40 mins of device time. The eye is at its most relaxed when it’s focusing at a distance of about 6m away. Greenery has been found to be especially soothing. Kids can also close their eyes, or use eye drops if needed.
  • Move it! When not typing or using the hands, do rest the arms, and perform some stretches. Get up to keep blood circulating, and remember to use the bathroom, too!
  • Help set up the computer station to suit your child’s height. Invest in an ergonomic chair, and teach your child to type or play gently, as unnecessary force increases the risk of overuse injuries.What’s the proper posture for computer use?The computer screen should be at or slightly lower than eye level. The main source of light (e.g. window) should not shine straight in your face or onto the screen.The keyboard should be at a height whereby your forearms are roughly parallel to the floor. Your elbows should rest comfortably at your sides. Use an ergonomic chair that allows your spine to hold its natural curve.Your feet should rest flat on the floor (you can also use a footstool). The mouse should be placed as close to the keyboard as possible, at the same level as described for the keyboard, so that your wrists and hands are naturally positioned. Use your whole arm, not just the wrist, when using the mouse.
  • Make sure your child gets enough sleep at night. Sleep experts also discourage using devices in the hour before bed.
  • Teach kids to pay attention to their surroundings — devices are the most hazardous as a distraction, especially on roads. Even at home, it’s not funny when a kid walks into a sharp table corner or bumps into someone carrying hot food. Safety first!
  • Encourage more face-to-face interaction, which helps them develop their social skills and connectedness.

Parents can also talk to their children about their own tech habits, share relevant articles, and introduce new activities.

Related: Get Fit the Techie Way

Time out!

Singapore has a wealth of outdoorsy places to explore. It’s time to pack the devices away, pack the kids up and discover our island’s many gems!

  • Start with a nature walk in the neighbourhood park, or visit one at random — take turns to choose a spot off a map! You can also fit in a workout on Sundays at the Park.
  • Gear up and go on a hiking trip.
  • How about an outdoor photography expedition to one of our nature reserves?
  • Did you know Singapore still has several farms? Visitors are generally welcome.
  • There are always the familiar favourites: the Zoo and River Safari, Botanic Gardens, Sentosa, and East Coast beach never fail to please.

Don’t let tech hijack your bonding time with your child!

Giving up the best of the growing-up years to tech will only lead to regret. Create better experiences and memories to cherish, instead.

Resources

healthhub.sg, “9 Health Hazards of Electronic Devices for Kids.”; mdorthospecialists.com, “13 Tips for Avoiding Injuries While Exercising.”;