Injuries don't have to slow you from meeting your fitness goals or keep you from enjoying your daily activities. The following 5 steps that I have outlined below will dramatically reduce your chance of experiencing a pain causing injury and if you do find yourself injured, but have been following these 5 steps, your recovery will be quick and efficient.
Step 1: Stretch
What is more boring than stretching? You have stuff to do; work to finish, meetings to attend, cooking, cleaning, exercise! The last thing you want to do is to sit around touching your toes -- right?
Well, even though it isn't exciting, stretching is the best way to increase muscle elasticity and durability. Tight muscles are big contributors to strains -- remember? The older we get, the less flexible we become which leaves our muscles, tendons and ligaments wide open for injury and strain. Take the time to stretch every day at your desk, in the shower, and before/after your workout to stave off injury.
Step 2: Warm Up
If you are preparing to do any physical activity like working out, remember that your warm-up should not begin and end with putting on your gym clothes. Your muscles need to be coaxed into motion by way of a 10-15 minute warm up in order to prepare them for injury-free use. Cold muscles are less elastic and are therefore more prone to tears.
Step 3: Proper Gear
For most fitness enthusiasts proper gear has everything to do with their shoes. But don't be fooled -- not just any shoe will do. Find shoes that offer support and traction for your activity of choice, and make sure that they aren't too tight or too loose. If you are prone to ankle injuries then try a pair of high-tops for extra support.
Step 4: Lifestyle
Stop for a moment and think about your car -- if you don't maintain it with regular tune ups, oil changes and quality fuel then you can't expect it to perform well on the road. Treat your car poorly and sooner or later it will leave you high and dry at the most inconvenient time. The same applies to your body. Getting healthy amounts of sleep, eating well balanced meals, staying hydrated and getting regularly scheduled massage therapy will all contribute to your ability to live injury free. Simply put: The healthier your lifestyle is the less likely you are to suffer an injury.
Step 5: Condition
This may seem like the most obvious step to injury prevention, but unfortunately it is the most overlooked. Believe it or not; People who keep their bodies in top condition by exercising regularly and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are the least likely to injure themselves. That's right. It's when people randomly exercise in an inconsistent manner. When exercise programs are started and stopped sporadically that your muscles are most likely to become injured.
Of course being conditioned also has another great benefit that everyone enjoys - you get to look and feel great! And who doesn't want that, right?