4 Steps to Saving Yourself from Injury

There’s always that voice in the back of your mind that whispers, “Maybe I should skip dead lifting today to save my knees” or “I read somewhere that running wrecks your ankles so I’m going to skip the cardio today” and so on. But if we eliminate these “risky” workouts then what does that leave us with? Yoga? Okay, yoga is great. It really is. But you have to throw something else in there! These “risky” workouts are imperative to overall fitness improvement.

A fear of injury is a perfectly valid fear when it comes to resistance training, probablyIMG_4314 even a healthy fear. Injury is so common! It happens all the time! One wrong move could lead to a lifetime of agonizing pain. So this is something that we should talk about, because getting injured could be fatal and prevent you from being able to exercise for the rest of your life. Why do we even risk it?

What if I told you there were basic, fool proof ways to easily avoid this fatality? I promise the risk is so worth it. So why don’t we just go through these simple steps to avoid the injury before it happens?

NEUTRAL SPINE

I can’t tell you how important this step is. Maintaining neutral spine is essential to maintaining back and spine health of any kind. Keep a nice arch to your back at ALL TIMES. Only a little curvature or over arching could lead to vertebrae or disk injury, especially with a heavy load. Keep that back nice and straight.

WARM UP

IMG_4472Your muscles aren’t ready to exercise when they’re cold. It’s 100% worth the extra five minutes to run a couple laps real quick, head over to the elliptical, Pound out some jumping jacks, or honestly any form of light cardio that gets you moving. The warm up should never be omitted.

 

GET A SPOTTER

I know it looks so much lamer benching your max all alone as opposed to with some punk standing behind you helping you with the weight. But let me tell you, it looks a thousand times lamer when you drop your max on your chest and are pinned to the bench like a fool. Not to mention a nice trip to the ER. Always get a spotter when your lifting heavy, don’t let your ego cause you a lifelong injury.

STRETCH

Your muscles are rubber bands. If they aren’t constantly being stretched out, then one IMG_2930small over-expansion could cause it to burst. Also there is a famous phrase that says ‘Those that are flexible don’t get bent out of shape.’ Now I don’t think this was meant to be about about weightlifting, but it couldn’t be more accurate for the case. Take that last five minutes at the end of every workout to touch your toes real fast, swing your arms back and forth, or even just roll out sore muscles. You will thank yourself later.

Injury can be devastating, or even life threatening. However, the steps to prevent are so easy and take at most five minutes out of your busy day. Don’t be the fool that loses the ability to workout for the rest of their life due to one wrong move. But most importantly, don’t be the fool that lets the fear of injury penetrate their ability to workout at all. The antidote to this lifelong fatality is so simple, so why don’t we take it?

 

The Squat: Decoded

Once fitness star Jane Fonda said ‘no pain no gain,’ we all were here trying to kill ourselves for these rad gainz. But I am here to tell you that SOMETIMES the pain part doesn’t ever go away. Months later. Years later. Or even decades later. Our bodies are fragile, and need to be treated with more care.

Squats are actually really dangerous.

BUT with that being said, squats are a vital addition to your workout routine. And contrary to popular belief, they are good for much much more than that Kardashian physique; though that is a bonus. Squats are a basic movement that is incorporated in your everyday life for anything from lifting your son to trying to find that last Cheeto you dropped in the floor. Squats are fundamental to the development of fitness.

So let me decode the recipe to a safe squat:

BACK

Your back should be at neutral spine at ALL TIMES for the duration of the squat. Never should it leave this position until your weight is safely racked and you’re bending over to grab a sip of that lemon lime Gatorade (Definitely is the best flavor, fight me).

So what even is this neutral spine crap? Neutral spine is just as its name entails; when your spine is at a neutral position. If you were to stand up against a wall with only your butt and shoulders touching it, this would be when your back is at neutral spine. Shoulders rolled back with good posture, but no over extension of the spine curvature. For the extent of your squat, it is imperative that your back does not leave this stance.

Seeing as back pain does plague a large majority of exercise enthusiasts, I have included an article about exercises to reduce back pain in the link below.

Exercises for Back Pain

IMG_9543

KNEES

Most women especially struggle with the knee concept, mostly because they are naturally a little bow legged. Fight the urge ladies! Push those knees out to be perfectly parallel with your feet, straight out in front of you. No funky extensions to the side either.

Also, the knees should fit directly above the feet. It is common for both women and men to push the knees past the feet, but it is critical that the knees are kept directly above the feet as to save our knees. We all still want to be able to scale staircases past the age fifty am i right?

Give this link a read for further ACL injury prevention.

https://smwhome.net/2018/09/27/minimizing-the-risk-of-acl-injuries-in-athletes/

ANKLES

For most people, hitting that full squat extension is impossible for one reason; ankle mobility. Basically that means how far forward one can bend before it is necessary for the heels to pop off the floor and weight transfers to the toes. The goal for the squat is to keep your full weight on the CENTER of your feet the full extension; not the toes, and not backwards on the heels. The ankles should be positioned shoulder width apart and completely on the ground.

To improve ankle flexibility, practice squatting full depth and taking the heels as close to the ground as possible. The more often this stretch is done the more effective.

The link below expounds on the ways to stay safe from injury while lifting weights.

https://strongbeasts.wordpress.com/2018/10/22/myth-weight-lifting-causes-joint-pain/

man in black reebok shoes about to carry barbell

HOW LOW

I can’t tell you how many gym rats have come up to me at the gym and informed me that my squat wasn’t low enough. Sure, when it comes to squats lower is better. HOWEVER fullĀ  butt-on-the-floor depth is not for everybody. You should go as low as you can until:

  • The heel lifts off the floor
  • The weight becomes off of the center of the feet
  • Neutral spine cannot be maintained
  • Pelvis begins to curve under

If ANY of these events occur, you know its time to bring it back up. You can go tell that gym rat to watch his own form. Go correct his form maybe. Whatever you fell so inclined to do. Just know that it is not necessary to go all the way to the floor every single time, don’t hurt yourself!

This included link gives more detail about gaining spine mobility in order to get that squat lower to the ground.

How To Improve Thoracic Spine Mobility

IMG_6155

The biggest concern with squats is keeping yourself safe. If something is hurting unnaturally, take a break. Lighten your load! Don’t let your ego take over or karma will come back and hit you with some hard patella tendinitis. But with that being said, don’t let the rumors scare you away from adding squats into your workout routine. Not only do they improve physique, but they make everyday life a thousand times easier.