As Seen in IMPACT Magazine
If you are injury free don’t bypass this article. It was written just for you!*
Engaging in physical activity can be fun and rewarding! Reaching a fitness goal is a major accomplishment that makes us feel good both physically and mentally. Yet, as we run, pump iron, practice yoga, cycle, and walk our way to fitness, we are often surprised when we become injured. But should we be?
Physiotherapist Terry Kane suggests that most injuries have an element of instability at their root. Indeed, one of the biggest obstacles we have to overcome in the fitness industry is that people tend to be reactive, rather than proactive, when it comes to injuries. As a personal trainer, I know that there will never be a shortage of clientele that is seeking to rehabilitate a bad back, knee, hip, or shoulder. It doesn’t have to be that way!
We are familiar with the concept of preventative medicine: improving the quality of our lives by managing stress, eating healthily, getting enough rest and exercise, etc. As these activities become part of our daily routines, habits are formed and we give them less conscious thought. We can take a similar approach to improving the quality of our physical activity.
Building stability into our routines should become a habit. The idea is to incorporate stabilization into our workouts prior to developing injuries rather than having to do a muscle/joint-specific rehab workout post-injury.
Here’s how you can work preventative rehabilitation into your routine:
2. Use a wobble board while doing any standing free-weight exercises such as biceps curls, upright rows, or military press. This will activate your gluteus medius (a small muscle in your buttocks) and help to stabilize your lower back.
3. Use fitness balls instead of benches (making sure, of course, that the combined weight you have on the ball does not exceed manufacturers’ weight restrictions). The benefit here is a strong core and strong glutes. These reinforce good posture and a strong back.
4. Use a foam roller while doing dumbbell presses, flies, and skull crushers, etc., to strengthen your transverse abdominal muscles. These are the muscles that you feel contracting when you cough and in essence are the mainstay of core stability. Exercising on the foam roller also helps you to open up and stretch through the chest, improving range of motion at the shoulder.
5. Regardless of the exercise you are doing, take a moment to think you way through the movement patterns, focusing on your abdominal muscles and working from the core out.
6. Don’t forget to stretch. The more flexible you are, the less energy is required from your muscles to go through their normal range of motion. If joints are able to move through this normal range there will be less resistance in the muscles and the risk of injury will be decreased.
While rehabilitation addresses the consequences of instability, preventative rehabilitation focuses on keeping you on the path to injury-free workouts.
*Before incorporating stability equipment into your fitness routine please do have a fitness professional teach you the movements and patterns so that you can, you know, prevent injury :0)