How To Avoid Injuries as a Fitness Class Fanatic (Part 2)
*This is part 2, of a post on avoiding injuries, as a group fitness fanatic. Part 1 on “How To Avoid Injuries …” is here.
Group fitness class regulars want to avoid injury, who doesn’t? We take classes to increase fitness level, have fun, and move in ways and speeds we wouldn’t do on our own.
Here are a few more suggestions:
6. Myofascial Release is worth your time. Massage, foam roll, and my preference: ART.
Most recently, the industry buzzword has been “myofascia” which literally translates to muscle fibers. A continuous sheath of these fibers run through our anatomy, connecting all the muscles and integrating all the movements of our body. We ideally train ourselves to move and function along these naturally placed lines of movement, but kinks in that system are what cause tightness, pain, and injury. Releasing those tension spots and training to avoid them is key to decreasing injury.
Massage is a passive way of releasing these tensions. Foam rolling is a form of self-massage or myofascial release, but it doesn’t offer the benefit of releasing the fascial tension as you actively perform movement according to the fascial lines. That’s why I prefer the Active Release Technique, also known as ART.
ART is a form of manual physical therapy that massages the knots and tension as you are performing a movement that activates and stretches the fascial line. This results in a more comprehensive and targeted way of addressing your knots, and the outcome is an increase in your functional range of motion, and a more notable decrease in pain or dysfunction.
7. Cooldown via #6, or good ol’ fashioned stretching.
Passive stretching is not without its benefits, and don’t let people tell you otherwise. Stretching done correctly is a form of myofascial release, albeit less deep than what you can get from foam rolling, massage, or ART. That said, most people today can still definitely benefit from some form or other of stretching, particularly when done to counteract your typical posture of the day.
For example, desk workers are usually in hip flexed, and spine rounded positions. They immediately benefit from stretches that extend their hips and spine, along with positions that increase their rotation and challenge their spine’s strength or stability.
8. Take necessary time off.
I admit that this is a hard one to recommend. None of my group fitness fans will take time off until an injury truly debilitates them. It’s unfortunate, but the truth is, if you just took the time off to begin with, to address your injury, the debilitation would not have gotten as severe.
9. Work with a trained eye, someone who can spot your tendencies and weak spots.
I personally draw a clear line, as far as the benefits a group class can offer, compared to that of personal training.
In a one-on-one setting, you can expect a trained specialist to see your weak links. This then gives them an idea of how to get you more functionally balanced, before engaging in activities that could worsen your posture, or cause later injury.
Whether you see a fitness coach 1-on-1, or work with a physiotherapist for general recommendations, expect a more enlightened view of what you’re really doing to your body with the workouts you engage in.
10. At least, talk to your instructor.
Your group coach is more than likely to have pearls of wisdom toward your specific area of concern, particularly if you are nursing an injury.
I’ve turned people away from certain classes that are likely to make them worse, instead of better.
Here’s a good example: Someone with arthritic knees who cannot take any sort of impact because they no longer have the cushioning structures in their knees does not need to be in a plyometrics-based conditioning class. The jumping and landing on hard surfaces cannot possibly do them more good than harm. A person with a frozen shoulder is best off doing shoulder-specific mobility, instead of performing kettlebell or ViPR classes, where we require flexible and well-functioning shoulders to perform the movements correctly.
And there you have it! Delf’s personal 10 tips on how to avoid injuries. I’d love to hear from you on these. Do you have injuries you work around?
- Bored With the Gym? Try Tai Chi or Yoga (everydayhealth.com)
- 24 Awesome Group Workouts That Don’t Feel Like Exercise (news.health.com)
- 11 Ways to Improve Your Workouts (psychologytoday.com)
- 5 Workout Tips for Baby Boomers (elderoptionsoftexas.com)