Designed to test your mind, push your limits and challenge your body, functional fitness isn’t just exercise. As a performance-based, endurance-testing training function, it’s a way of life that not only forms your body but can completely change your mindset.
The constant variations and different styles of workouts mean functional fitness can keep you on your toes. However, as with any sport or training, there is a potential risk when you don’t listen to your body or remain focused on each movement.
There are things you can do from the get-go to help prevent and minimize the risk of injury. Here are five steps to help you reduce your chances of a fitness-related injury:
1. Warm up!!
Launching straight into an intense workout without warming up your muscles and joints is an easy way to get injured. It might seem like a simple step, but it’s important to remember to ease into your training session. Factor at least 5 minutes of warmup time in before your training to help minimize the chance of pulling or straining a muscle, getting a sprain and/or joint injury.
2. Find your support system
Be it your coach or a spotting buddy, having someone there to help you stay in top form will also help you to avoid injury. Employing a buddy system, when working out alone or in a group, to assist you on those heavier moves, is best practice and ensures you stay safe.
3. Practice good form
One of the keys to injury prevention in fitness is practicing good form. If you get your technique down and move well, your risk of picking up potentially damaging habits reduces. It can also be easy to get caught up in competitiveness or on what others around you are doing, but instead remain focused on your form. It will enhance your performance in the long run. Some practical advice is to build stability in each movement by performing your reps slowly when performing the “down” part of the movement, and “controlling” when do the “up” part of the movement.
For ex: if you are squatting, do so with a 4021 tempo (4 seconds down, 0 at the bottom, 2 seconds up, and 1 seconds breather at the top). Use this tempo for 100’s of reps over a few consistent months of training before speeding up the reps. If you are new to training, follow this protocol and once you have completed 500 or so reps at this tempo, then move to a 30×1 or 20×1 tempo. (3 seconds down, 0 at bottom, explode(x) up fast, and 1 at the top)
4. Maintain body awareness
Yes, fitness is about pushing yourself to the limit. But listening to your body’s limits is also key to preventing injury. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses and learning when to push yourself or pullback will help you scale your training session to best fit your needs.
5. Post workout recovery
Movement is a big part of ensuring your body can recover. Take the time to ease out of your workout by gradually cooling down. Always take a minimum of five minutes to cool down and stretch out after you’ve finished a workout. Incorporating heat and massage into your recovery is also a great way to loosen up any tightness you may be carrying with you.
If you do sustain an injury or feel the inclining of one coming on, here are a few tips to follow.
Early diagnosis and treatment
Whether you’ve sustained an injury or feel a potential one coming on, seeking professional medical assistance is the best thing you can do for your future training. Ignoring your body and trying to push past pain indicators will only slow your recovery down. Detecting any issues early and getting treatment for them is the fastest way to getting back into it.
Ease back into your training
Before you even considering getting back into your fitness training, always get the okay from your medical professionals and your coaches. Functional Fitness is an intense and strenuous workout, so you need to listen to your body, especially after an injury. Taking some time to rest and set realistic expectations for your return is also key to making a comeback. When you do feel ready and have been given the all clear, talk with your coaches at the gym about your injuries and the best way to manage them.
Fitness is all about pushing and challenging yourself but being in tune with your body and its limits are also key to progressing in your training. Injury prevention is easier to manage than recovering from an injury so use the tips outlined here to help you train safer and smarter.
To find a program that helps you manage any potential injuries or deal with existing ones, chat with a Noble Clay Coach today.