Prevent & Treat Common Workout Injuries

Hildgrim CC-BY-SA-2.0

Whether you are in top shape or a beginner, a workout injury can happen to anyone. You can experience an injury even when you are walking. A sprained joint or injured muscle can side-line you for days or even weeks. You can and should take steps to help reduce your risk of injury before and after every workout. The most common types of workout injuries include:

  • strained muscles
  • sprained ankles or other joints
  • knee injuries
  • wrist and shoulder injuries
  • tendinitis

Warm-up your muscles and joints before exercise and a cool-down after your workout can greatly reduce your risk of muscle and joint injury. Cool-down by doing light exercise until your heart rate and respiration return to normal. Stretch your muscles and joints again. Stretching after a workout helps to reduce the levels of lactic acid and other metabolic waste in your muscle cells, which is thought to contribute to post-exercise muscle soreness.

Don’t push yourself too hard during a workout. Know your body and ¬†your limits. Start slowly and gradually increase the intensity of your workout by working harder, longer or increasing repetitions. Soon your strength and endurance will increase which can also help reduce your risk of injury.

Cross training is another good way to increase muscle strength, improve endurance and reduce your risk of injury. Shin splints and tendinitis are injuries that usually result from repetitive motions and over-use of one muscle or muscle group. Always rest at least 24 hours between workouts to give your muscles time to heal. For example, if you run on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, try some light weight lifting on Tuesday and Thursday. Vary your workout so that all of your major muscle groups get a workout, but no single muscle or muscle group is over-worked.

If you do suffer an injury, remember R.I.C.E.: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevate. Rest your injured muscle. Don’t work it until the injury is completely healed. You can still work your other muscles or engage in exercise that does not stress your injury. For example, if you injure your shoulder lifting weights, switch your workout to leg presses or walk and jog until your shoulder is fully healed. Apply ice to the injured area to reduce swelling. Applying a compression bandage to the affected joint or muscle also helps reduce swelling. Elevate injured limbs to further help reduce swelling. Use a mild over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication if necessary. Most exercise injuries will heal in a few weeks or even in a few days. See your doctor if your injury does not heal, pain increases or does not subside, or if there is swelling and bruising around the injured area.

 

Pilates to Firm Your Buttocks and Thighs

Photo Credit: Ebullientben CC-BY-SA-3.0

Doing Pilates exercises is a good way to firm up your body and improve your strength and endurance. Pilates exercises focuses on controlled movements and breathing. This type of exercise improves core strength for stability and strength. Pilates exercises can also firm and tone all the muscles of your body including difficult areas like the thighs and buttocks. You need only a mat or carpeted floor to perform many Pilates exercises to firm and tone your lower body and legs. 
The thighs tend to be a problem area, especially for women. Thigh lifts can help firm up the inner thighs that are especially difficult to exercise. To do thigh lifts, lie down on the floor or on an exercise mat on one side. Support your upper body with your elbow and prop your head up with your hand. Keep your elbow under your shoulder and stretch your body out straight. If you lie down on your right side, your left leg will be on top. Bring your left leg in front of your hips and place your foot on the floor. Grasp your left ankle with your free (left) hand. Breathe in and tighten your abdominal muscles, while simultaneously lifting your right leg a few inches off the floor. Hold the position for 5 seconds. Exhale as you lower your right leg back to the floor. Do 10 repetitions and then switch sides.
Do side thigh lifts from the same starting position, except extend your arm above your head and rest your head on your arm. Stretch your body out in a straight line with one leg on top of the other. If you begin on your left side, you place your right hand on the floor in front of your chest for support. Inhale, squeeze your abdominal muscles and the lift both legs off the floor a few inches. Keep your legs together and hold the position for 5 seconds. Exhale and then lower your legs back to the floor. Do 10 repetitions on each side. 

Pelvic curls will help tone your hips, buttocks and thighs. To do pelvic curls, lie on your back and bend your knees. Place your feet flat on the floor with your feet about hip-width apart. Place your palms on the floor on each side of your body for stability. Exhale as you tighten your abdominal muscles and pull your belly button toward your spine. Inhale and slowly lift your pelvis and buttocks off the floor by curling your body upward from the tailbone and lifting with your legs. Keep your feet, shoulders and palms flat on the floor. Hold the position for 5 seconds. Exhale as you roll your body back to the floor. Repeat this exercise 10 times.