Your gym routine is only as good as its safety. Recklessly lifting heavy weights will often lead to an injury. Improper form, careless loading, or undertraining/overtraining can lead to taking time off of the gym for weeks or even months.
PVL wants you to lift as often as you want, so you must learn how to prevent injuries and rehabilitate your body whenever an injury occurs. Here, we’ll go over how to lift to prevent your body from breaking down and the latest information on how to recover effectively and quickly from injuries sustained in the gym.
Injury Prevention Exercise Tips
How you lift is pivotal for a healthy body. Practicing safe lifting habits is smart, protecting your joints while strengthening your muscles at every point. There are a few key things you must remember to train correctly to prevent injury:
- Keep reps slow and controlled
- Don’t go to absolute failure during sets (compromises joints when muscles are fatigued)
- Stay focused by establishing a mind-muscle connection
- Get a training partner to spot you
- Do tried and true exercises that have plenty of research and results behind the technique
By doing all of this, you won’t injure yourself by going too heavy or doing something reckless in the gym. The other significant facet is progressive overload. This is how strength and hypertrophy happen, which, with solid form, will prevent any lifting-based injuries from ever occurring. Essentially, you want to increase your training volume each time you lift. This can mean more weight, more reps, faster recovery times (within reason), or a mix of the three. Through progressive overload, you become a well-oiled machine that rarely breaks down, if ever.
Other Ways to Protect Yourself From an Injury in the Gym
Rest and recovery are essential as well. Getting good quality sleep, stretching after a workout, applying heat to sore areas after training…these all go a long way to ensuring the muscles recover from the damage inflicted during strength training.
How you eat affects your physical health as well. Some foods cause unnecessary inflammation, such as poly-unsaturated fatty acids and quick-acting sugars. Reducing those while adding sufficient protein and complex carbs will keep you feeling right while training.
Rehabbing Injuries to Get Back into the Gym Quickly
If, unfortunately, you do get injured while training, don’t panic. Feeling like it’ll heal fast is half the battle. With a positive mindset, you’re well on your way to returning to 100 percent health.
Ice & Heat
R.I.C.E. – rest, ice, compression, elevation – is the common cure for most physical injuries that involve muscles or joints. Ice is effective at the outset of an injury, within the first 24-48 hours after inflicting the injury. Afterward, heat is more effective at driving key inflammatory signals to the point of injury so that the body can protect the area as it heals itself.
Rest, Compress, Elevate
The other three components — rest, compression, and elevation — are also effective. Rest allows your system to focus its attention on the injured area. Compression also drives blood and other nutrients to the area. Elevation allows the body to take a break every once in a while on the road to recovery.
Here’s another way to heal an injury that might shock you: Work out the injured area. You want to build it back stronger than before if it’s something like a ligament, tendon, muscle, or other connective tissue. That’s why it got injured in the first place — it wasn’t strong enough to sustain the forces you were putting it through. Doing repetitive exercises slowly and not beyond the point of pain allows the body not to develop scar tissue but fresh tissue that comes back with more tensile strength. This ensures it doesn’t become a nagging, chronic issue in the future, leading to more severe injuries.
By using all of these preventative and healing techniques, you should be able to grow a resilient, robust, and injury-free body. Pain should be temporary, so lift in a manner that makes you near impervious to it.
van den Bekerom, M. P., Struijs, P. A., Blankevoort, L., Welling, L., van Dijk, C. N., & Kerkhoffs, G. M. (2012). What is the evidence for rest, ice, compression, and elevation therapy in the treatment of ankle sprains in adults?.Journal of athletic training, 47(4), 435–443. https://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-47.4.14
El-Sheikh, A. A., El-Kordy, E. A., & Issa, S. A. (2021). Influence of Heat Treatment on Muscle Recovery after Skeletal Muscle Injury in Rats: Histological and Immunohistochemical Studies. Journal of microscopy and ultrastructure, 10(2), 63–71. https://doi.org/10.4103/jmau.jmau_85_20
Article by Terry Ramos