When it comes to looking and feeling your best, your goals are probably pretty simple. Like most of us, you want to get stronger. You want to feel confident in your own skin. You want to have more energy.
And you really don’t want to get injured.
Fear of injury keeps many people from taking those important next steps to get fit. If this describes you right now, what you may not know is that you can control your own risk of injury.
How do you do this? Here, it may surprise you to learn that how you move can be as important as how much you move.
In other words, you need to do the right types of movement in the right order to get fit and prevent injury. In this article, learn the seven critical steps to take to reduce injury through movement.
Ergonomics and Biomechanics, Or Why How You Move Matters
In most workplaces, ergonomics has one simple purpose: to prevent workers from getting carpal tunnel syndrome and submitting expensive health benefits claims.
But as the University of Berkeley points out, ergonomics itself dates back to the 1890s and was always intended to have a far broader application than whether your elbow makes a perfect 90-degree angle relative to the keyboard as you type out yet another email.
Ergonomics is the science and study of efficiency. Efficiency is all about doing more with less energy output. And if there is one thing that drains energy output like nobody’s business, it is getting hurt!
Why is this relevant for our discussion here? Because when you apply ergonomics to exercise and movement, it is called biomechanics – the study of how the human body moves.
As the Fundamentals of Biomechanics explains,, if you want to move efficiently without injury, you first need to understand how your own body is naturally designed to move.
In other words, you want to move “with” your body and not against it. You want each movement you make to make the fullest use of all the strength, flexibility and endurance you already possess and then add to that.
This is what we will talk about in the remainder of this article as you learn about the seven steps to reduce injury through movement.
Step 1: Learn About Your Own Body Mechanics
Any sports biomechanics program emphasizes two equally important goals: improving performance and avoiding injury (or rehabilitating injured areas – more on this in step two here).
But most people who launch a new exercise or fitness program do it as a reaction to something else – perhaps holiday weight gain or anxiety about health as they age.
Because of this reactivity, you may not stop to put a foundation of knowledge underneath your exercise plan so you can stick with it, enjoy it and avoid getting injured.
This is why you can’t skip step one – learning about how your own body moves. This is more fun than it sounds, by the way.
Have you ever wondered why some sports or exercises come easily to you and others seem really impossible? As this short, fun Washington Post quiz highlights, different body types really can give you an advantage in certain sports.
When you are learning about your own body movement and choosing how to work out, why not play to your body’s natural strengths and choose activities you are naturally good at?
You may just surprise yourself and discover that you can finally stick with your fitness and exercise program because it is fun, you enjoy it and you are good at it.
Step 2: Customize Your Fitness Program
Speaking of rehabilitating injury, from the moment you learned how to walk, your body began to accumulate wear and tear.
Perhaps you had a fall or two during volleyball tryouts. Maybe you sprained your ankle stepping off a curb. Or someone rear-ended you and caused whiplash to your cervical spine.
As you begin to move, you may feel hyper-aware of these old injury sites and tempted to avoid any movement that might aggravate those areas. This is not an optimal approach.
Instead, you want your fitness plan to help you stabilize and strengthen those old areas of injury and weakness so they don’t get in your way in the future.
The good news is, with the right fitness and exercise plan in place, you can actually achieve this goal and even get stronger than you ever have been before.
Step 3: Incorporate the Seven Fundamental Movements
As the Marine Corps Community Services (MCCS) highlights, there are seven foundational or core movements that every fitness program should include:
- Push: focuses on chest, arm and upper body strength.
- Plank: focuses on core strength.
- Pull: focuses on shoulder, back, hip and leg strength.
- Rotate: focuses on pelvic, hip and spine strength.
- Hinge: focuses on spine, hip and leg strength.
- Squat: focuses on core and upper leg strength.
- Lunge: focuses on core, leg, ankle and foot strength.
If several of these sound like your worst nightmare from middle school gym class, don’t worry. You don’t have to turn into a Marine in training to get the benefits.
Rather, as the simple outline above illustrates, the concept is to work out every body system equally so you get equal, all-over strength, stamina and flexibility.
There are lots of different types of sports, exercises and movements that can incorporate these seven types of movements.
Step 4: Start Your New Fitness Plan Slowly and Gradually
Earlier here we mentioned how many people start a new “get fit quick” program as a knee-jerk reaction to something unpleasant. Common reasons include seeing a shocking number on the New Year’s Day scale, an unkind comment from a partner or a doctor’s health warnings.
Not surprisingly, when you are launching into working out from a place of anxiety or pain, you are probably going to overdo it from day one.
And your new exercise plan might not survive the week, whether due to pain, exhaustion, injury – in a word, self-sabotage.
When you decide you will be disciplined enough to start working out slowly and gradually, you discover you really can achieve your goals and stay injury-free too.
Step 5: Wear the Right Clothes and Shoes
If you show up for your swimming lesson wearing soccer gear, you can’t blame the pool, the weather or your instructor when you sink right to the bottom and decide never to swim again.
Or, as Harvard Medical School emphasizes, if you want to get stronger without injuries, it starts with dressing for the occasion.
You want footwear that will help you establish a firm foundation, whether that foundation is on the basketball court, the boxing ring, the yoga studio or your local pool.
The clothing you select should help your body breathe and give you the confidence to move freely without undue self-consciousness.
It won’t hurt at all if you love your new workout outfits either! Pick clothes and footwear you like and look forward to wearing.
Step 6: Choose the Right Exercise Gear
Just as you wouldn’t bring a baseball bat to your yoga class, you wouldn’t show up for basketball practice with a set of fitness bands.
You want to make sure you are using the right exercise gear for your chosen sport or fitness activity.
The best way to be sure you have what you need to feel stable, secure and supported is to do your research before you begin your new fitness routine. This way, you are making good and confidence-building memories from your very first day.
Step 7: Talk With Your Doctor About Any Health Concerns
By the time you get to a stage in life where you might be reading an article like this, you have probably had at least a health scare or few.
Having said that, if you are currently under a doctor’s care for any ongoing chronic or resolving health issue, it is very smart to discuss your exercise goals and plans first before launching in to get fit.
You may also be pleasantly surprised to learn that your healthcare provider can help you achieve your goals with a customized WebExercises fitness plan created just for you (read on to learn more about how to get yours).
These seven steps to reduce injury through movement will support you to set reasonable fitness goals you really can achieve. This time, why not do things differently and start out with everything you need to get stronger, feel healthier and look great!
Get Your Own Customized Fitness Plan
You don’t have to delay getting fit due to fear of injury. With WebExercises, you can start working out safely from day one with your own customized fitness plan.
Contact your health care provider for a WebExercises prescription that is tailored to your specific health, wellness and fitness needs.