Sports injuries are plaguing people more than ever before. Many of these sports injuries can cause long-term pain and be difficult to recover from. Current fitness routines may get you looking good but can break your body down slowly over time. This makes you vulnerable to a long-term sports injury. Worst case scenario, you have to stop doing an activity you love altogether. Our current fitness industry is broken. Have you ever felt (literally) that it might be breaking your body?
It's not news that holistic health methods are gaining traction in the field of fitness training. The old ways of traditional, structured exercise and activities have left many people feeling flat-out burnt out after just a week. Now with an abundance of options at their fingertips, they can explore what types of wellness they might need or want. Holistic health fitness can increase flexibility and have better effectiveness in sports injury prevention.
You first need to be aware that your current fitness routine could be causing you more harm than good. Take a step back, assess your fitness goals, and see how you can implement a more balanced and holistic approach to your fitness. It's never too late to start this holistic health journey (I've trained 80-year-olds!). Start today, your future self will thank you!
However, we understand that not everyone is ready to throw their current workout routine out the window (even though we think it should be considered). So we will talk about 8 holistic health baby steps you can take today to help you with sports injury prevention.
Stretch yourself before you wreck yourself! The art of stretching is an excellent way to stay fit and reduce the risk for injury before a sporting event; especially when you're over thirty years old!
However, save your static stretches for your after-workout cooldown. Instead, try dynamic stretching.
Dynamic stretching helps prevent injuries by getting into the gentle movements of movement that will stimulate your tissues, promoting safe and effective physical exertion. Some examples of dynamic stretching could include the following exercises:
An important area to focus some extra stretching attention on would be the arms and shoulders. Many of us have tight, sore muscles in this area due to prolonged stress and poor positioning which increases the risk for injury. Stretching helps alleviate the aches that come with sitting at a desk all day or being hunched over while working on something under your work desk for hours.
Before a workout, try arm circles in front of the chest while extending to both sides (wide) with elbows straight out from the side; then bring them back together across the torso at the center before circling again on the opposite site without moving upper extremities/elbows).
Some great tools for stretching out muscles are muscle rollers (foam rollers) and lacrosse balls. Both of these are cheap on Amazon (less than $20). As long as you have adequate space for your workouts that is not padded, this will work perfectly! Use these two tools before and after your workout to increase muscle recovery and reduce fatigue.
A foam roller is a fantastic tool for working out the muscles you may not be aware of! Using a foam roller is also excellent for stretching your glutes. These are the large and firm muscles in your legs. Warming up your glutes can release tightness across your buttocks, back, and hips.
Important Note: You might think that the more pressure you apply to your muscles, the more effective is. It's possible you are using too much force. Try lowering the amount of intense pressing into areas, and work up to full pressure gradually. Make sure you start off comfortable. Remember to be safe with the foam roller and not overdo it. Spend 60 seconds on each spot and try not to bear down into the pressure too hard, as this can cause more harm than good. If you find yourself experiencing any intense pain, stop using the foam roller and consult your physician.
For lacrosse ball: Hold on to the ball with your hands (fingers down) and use just enough force so it hurts just enough. Do this 60 seconds at a time. This allows deeper work than if only done briefly - be sure you're listening to your body and not overdoing it with the lacrosse ball. when using this tool they are being used properly to avoid injury.
A holistic health routine is more than just about stretching. It also involves self-awareness and paying attention to your own limitations. Modern fitness programs can push the body to uncomfortable limits. For this reason, it's vital for beginners, or those already suffering from injury, to gradually build up endurance and functionality. Start slow and low on the workload and know what is appropriate for your current level of fitness. If in doubt, take it down a notch! If it feels too difficult, then stop that activity and build up stamina with something less strenuous. Many injuries occur when you try to push yourself past your current capabilities.
Dehydration is one of the world’s most common health problems. Proper hydration is crucial for a healthy body and should be a part of your holistic health fitness approach.
Drinking fluids 30 minutes before any activity will help to ensure that you are properly hydrated. If you are more active than the average person, make sure to drink additional amounts of water during your workout. A great idea would be bringing along a reusable bottle of water while working out.
Active rest is the practice of completing a short, low-intensity workout to allow for your muscles time without stress.
This sports injury prevention tip is one part of a holistic approach to physical training and exercise. Providing stress relief to muscles should be just as important as anything else you do as a trainer or athlete for preventing sports injuries and keeping them healthy over time.
Active Rest workouts are typically completed with the assistance of machines or light weight lifting while avoiding heavy weights and large muscle groups such as abdomen/stomach area exercises (think crunches or pushups).
It is important not to push yourself hard with active rest. Active rest will ensure that your muscles stay strong for the long haul.
No matter how strenuous the workout, a break will make sure you don't lose focus on your long-term fitness goals and give your muscles time to recuperate properly. If you’re feeling sore, this would also be a perfect time to take a break from exercising.
Examples of active rest are:
Our favorite part of a holistic health routine is sleep! If you're not feeling well, it might be a good idea to take some time and allow yourself an extra hour or two of rest before exercising again. This will help with your quality of life as well as more easily recover from exercise. Also, working out while tired can increase your chances of a sports injury. So be sure to get a good night of sleep. When we're feeling well-rested, our bodies are more able-bodied and ready for exercise!
You must maintain proper form while exercising if you don't want to have life-long pain. Small changes in your position can increase or decrease the risk of injuries, and it's never worth injuring yourself when it means the chances of life-long injuries. For example, if you're on a leg press machine with too much inward knee bend (called Valgus), this places stress on the knee and can lead to many problems. If you're questioning your form then ask for help from an instructor or personal trainer. If you don't have access to a trainer, then it's best to skip that exercise until you can receive honest feedback.
People who exercise for hours on the weekend without exercising in the week face a much higher risk of sports injuries than those with more balanced workout routines.
Try and create a consistent workout routine.
Get creative! Try anything from yoga to tai chi or even something simple (yet still challenging) as going for a jog every day before work or after dinner.
My company TaijiFit is trying the change the way the world does fitness. The fitness industry is broken and your current fitness routine will likely lead to a sports injury. It could be time to change your workout routine to an entirely holistic fitness approach. Two great routines you can try for physical training, as well as, mental training are Tai Chi or Yoga.
Tai Chi is a great place to start for fully integrated holistic fitness. Tai Chi is often misunderstood and it's more than old ladies practicing it on the beach!
Tai Chi can build strength, flexibility, and calm your mind. It focuses on your breath and there are countless benefits for anyone at any age. It can be practiced sitting down or standing up. Tai Chi has many physical and mental benefits that could help in sports therapy and sports injury prevention when done correctly.
Yoga is an exercise routine that can be done anywhere without any equipment, and it’s perfect for athletes to do before intense physical activity.
Yoga will help you improve both strength and flexibility in all parts of your body with a fun workout that usually lasts about 20 minutes or so! Yoga is also a great compliment to Tai Chi as you can combine both modalities into one exercise!
We all want to live a long healthy life doing the activities that we love. However, the current fitness industry is more focused on performance than prevention. Having more holistic approaches to our fitness will improve our day-to-day lives and help us live longer.
These small steps can help reduce your risk of sports injuries and keep you active and in good health. Keep in mind that these baby steps are not exhaustive. They should be enough for you to get started moving towards a more holistic health-friendly fitness routine.
This article does not contain any medical advice or diagnoses from an individual health practitioner; please consult with your health care provider before undertaking any of these steps.
Some people may find the advice in this article challenging or too difficult for their current fitness level and should consult a qualified practitioner if they have specific questions about what is right for them.